The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — GOP faces ‘green wave’ in final stretch to the midterms




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As Republicans seek to maintain their majorities in the House and Senate, they’ll first have to spend the final three weeks before Election Day fighting back against what party strategists are describing as a “green wave.”

Democratic candidates are raising money hand over fist. In fact, the spending fight in the House isn’t particularly close, another sign that Democrats have the advantage in enthusiasm heading into Nov. 6.

The Hill’s Max Greenberg crunches the numbers:

> More than 70 Democratic House challengers outraised the Republican incumbents in the third quarter of 2018. In the previous quarter, 50 Democratic challengers outraised  GOP incumbent, which was impressive enough at the time.

> Three Democratic House candidates raised more than $4 million in the last quarter. Eight raised more than $3 million, 30 raised more than $2 million and 60 brought in more than $1 million.

> Open seats from GOP retirements are another problem for the party. In 25 of the most competitive House races in which incumbents are not seeking reelection, Democrats outraised their Republican opponents.

From The New York Times analysis of third quarter fundraising:

Democrats outraised their Republican opponents in 32 of the closest 45 House races by a total margin of $154 million to $108 million since November 2016.”

In a letter to donors, the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a GOP super PAC affiliated with Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanZaid Jilani: Paul Ryan worried about culture war distracting from issues 'that really concern him' The Memo: Marjorie Taylor Greene exposes GOP establishment's lack of power The Hill's 12:30 Report - Senators back in session after late-night hold-up MORE (R-Wis.), warned Republicans to prepare to be swamped with spending in the coming weeks and said candidates would need to get creative to survive the onslaught.

The Morning Report obtained a copy of the letter:

“The GOP is now facing a green wave, not a blue wave … The Cook Report has 31 “toss-up” races – CLF is in 27 of them and the sole GOP spender in 14 of them. Between candidates, party committees, and House super PACs, Democrats are spending $30 million more than Republicans in targeted races. Republicans don’t have to match the Democrats dollar-for-dollar, they just have to have enough to compete.” – CLF Executive Director Corry Bliss

The fundraising breakdown for the last quarter, according to Bliss:



Democratic Senate candidates are raising big money too, none more than Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), whose stunning third quarter haul of $38 million more than tripled that of Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense: Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military | Military guns go missing | New White House strategy to battle domestic extremism Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military: 'We are not weak' Biden tries to erase Trump's 'America First' on world stage MORE (R-Texas), who pulled in $12 million.

Of course, money for TV ads, mobilization efforts, phone banks and mailers aren’t   enough to win campaigns, especially for challengers. Cruz has pulled away in the polls in recent weeks and appears headed for reelection in deep-red Texas.

The Hill: Five takeaways from the Cruz-O’Rourke debate.

And while individual GOP candidates are getting routed in the money game, there are enough big-spending donors and outside groups – from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson to the network of groups affiliated with billionaire Charles Koch – to keep many candidates afloat.

President TrumpDonald TrumpKushner lands book deal, slated for release in 2022 Biden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Progressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC MORE has proven to be a fundraising juggernaut.

Trump has been hosting fundraisers for candidates and this quarter his own campaign committees surpassed the $100 million mark for the cycle, an extraordinary sum.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Trump, who has at times acknowledged that the midterm elections would be a referendum on his presidency, said he would not accept “blame” if Republicans lose the House.

The president said he’s “helping” GOP candidates and that the upcoming election “feels to me very much like” 2016.

But the fundraising numbers add to the growing data pool that suggests big gains for House Democrats as they seek to flip the net 23 seats they need to take a majority.

The other data points:

> The party in power has historically lost seats in the new president’s first midterm election.

> Democrats have an advantage in voter enthusiasm.

> Dozens of GOP House members are retiring or seeking other offices and open seats are harder to defend. CLF is spending more than $20 million to defend open Republican House seats this cycle.

> Democrats lead the generic congressional ballot by 7 points, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

More from the campaign trail … Democrats fear Obama is going soft for the midterms (The Daily Beast) … Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyMcGuire unveils Arizona Senate campaign On The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly welcome first grandchild MORE (R) gains in Arizona Senate race (The Weekly Standard) … Democrats rush to save Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week Sanders drops bid to block Biden's Israel arms sale Sanders push to block arms sale to Israel doomed in Senate MORE in New Jersey (The Hill) … Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampEffective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests Bill Maher blasts removal of journalist at Teen Vogue Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives MORE (D-N.D.) apologizes for ad misidentifying victims of abuse (The Associated Press) … Despite Trump’s Israel policies, poll finds American Jews will overwhelmingly vote for Democrats (Haaretz).


CONGRESS: Senators in both parties want to sanction Saudi Arabia in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s reported murder, despite Trump’s resistance to block arms sales or otherwise sanction the Saudi government. Any such legislation, however, would compete with a packed post-election agenda (The Hill).

The goal of punishing the Saudis would backfire because the government there would simply enter into defense contracts with China or Russia instead of the United States, the president said during a Fox Business Network interview on Tuesday.

“We’re not really hurting them. We’re hurting ourselves. … I don’t want to give that up.” – Trump

Immigration: House conservatives are growing worried that Trump will look to strike an immigration deal with Democrats during the lame-duck session that legalizes millions of “Dreamers” in exchange for $25 billion in funding for a wall along the Southern border (The Hill).

Two headlines from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process on Wednesday | Four states emerge as test case for cutting off jobless benefits GOP senator: I want to make Biden a 'one-half-term president' McConnell presses for 'actual consequences' in disclosure of tax data MORE’s (R-Ky.) interview with Bloomberg on Tuesday:

He says he’s not that worried about the prospects of a partial government shutdown in December tied to a battle over funding security at the border, including a wall; and a Senate vote on a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico will have to wait until 2019.

Investigations: Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson pleaded the Fifth following a GOP-issued subpoena to testify behind closed doors before two House committees on Tuesday. Fusion GPS is the opposition research firm that compiled the infamous Steele dossier. Simpson’s lawyer said his client would not participate in what he described as an effort by House conservatives to smear him. Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsTrump, allies pressured DOJ to back election claims, documents show Trump endorsement shakes up GOP Senate primary in NC Biden's no-drama White House chief MORE (R-N.C.) said Republicans will discuss holding Simpson in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify (The Hill).

The Washington Post: FBI official accepted free tickets to sporting event from reporter, inspector general says.

House - environment: Democrats are unlikely to pursue major climate change legislation if they win the House majority, despite pressure from their left flank and a growing body of evidence suggesting time is running out to curb greenhouse gases (The Hill).


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump and his advisers like to see him on the hustings – at rallies, on TV, conducting interviews, on social media – based on the theory that the president is the GOP’s biggest asset to mobilize the Republican base to vote on Nov. 6. The assumption is that he will hammer home the Republican Party’s accomplishments (The Hill).

But Trump talks about a lot of topics in any 24-hour period. With 20 days to go until Election Day, and every GOP political analyst biting their nails about the all-important verdict by women voters this fall, Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to bash Stormy Daniels, to whom he paid hush money after an alleged affair, calling her “Horseface.” He took more shots at Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenProgressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC On The Money: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process on Wednesday | Four states emerge as test case for cutting off jobless benefits Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC MORE (D-Mass.), who says she’s thinking about a run for the White House in 2020.

And on immigration, the president paused to lean on Twitter on Tuesday to warn the Honduran government that if it did not halt a caravan of migrants from reaching the U.S. border, his administration would cut off international aid (The Wall Street Journal).

The president did not add clarity on Tuesday to the fate of missing Saudi journalist Khashoggi at a time when Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoRNC's McDaniel launches podcast highlighting Republicans outside of Washington Pompeo launches political group ahead of possible White House bid Sunday shows - Biden foreign policy in focus MORE was in Riyadh and Ankara to press for information.

Reuters: Pompeo meets with Turkish president, Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince about Khashoggi disappearance.

The Associated Press: Trump’s Saudi bet has become much riskier.

On Monday, Trump suggested Khashoggi was slain by “rogue killers” inside the Saudi consulate. On Tuesday, he told The Associated Press it was another case of “guilty until proven innocent,” a reference to the recent GOP talking point about Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughMcConnell sparks new Supreme Court fight Supreme Court confounding its partisan critics Gorsuch, Thomas join liberal justices in siding with criminal defendant MORE. His defense of Saudi Arabia runs up against his more general comments that Khashoggi’s reported murder and dismemberment would be “horrible,” if proven.

Pompeo said after his meetings on Tuesday that the Saudis continued to profess ignorance about Khashoggi’s whereabouts, while showing a “serious commitment” to determining the facts (The Hill).



After talking with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Trump said he “totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish consulate.”

The crown prince “told me that he has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter. Answers will be forthcoming shortly,” Trump said in a tweet.

Turkish officials, after examining the inside of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, said they found evidence Khashoggi was killed, presumably on Oct. 2 when he disappeared (The Associated Press).

The New York Times reports the suspects in the Khashoggi case have ties to Crown Prince Salman.

Vice President Pence spoke up on behalf of the vanished journalist, who was an opinion contributor to The Washington Post.

"We’re going to get to the bottom of it. It’s important that the world know the truth,” he said. "If in fact Mr. Khashoggi was murdered, we need to know who was responsible, we need to hold those responsible — and it’s even more important that he was a member of a free and independent press.”

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHouse Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists Senate Judiciary begins investigation into DOJ lawmaker subpoenas NSA leaker Reality Winner released from federal prison MORE followed Pence’s lead, while adding assurances that the president “feels strongly about it.” In fact, the president’s critics complained Trump spoke with more conviction this week about the importance of not rocking the boat over the Khashoggi matter, in deference to the value of U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

"The world will be diminished if journalists aren’t able to go and travel and to report honestly conditions in differing countries,” Sessions added, “or people in their own country can’t report on corruption or crime or misconduct in their countries. So I think it can even separate countries from a civilized community."


Oversight preparedness: Trump’s White House team is said by GOP allies and observers to be drastically ill-prepared and understaffed, should they encounter the inevitable result of divided government, which would be a barrage of congressional investigations (McClatchy).

            > `Pound of flesh club’: House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrat says he won't introduce resolution to censure Greene after her apology Democrats weigh next steps on Jan. 6 probe 21 Republicans vote against awarding medals to police who defended Capitol on Jan. 6 MORE (D-Calif.) is clearly thinking about oversight. "It's very important we are not scattershot. I'm not having any pound-of-flesh club. ... What is important is for us not to be them. We are not going to be them. On the other hand, the American people deserve the truth and we have to have oversight over the agencies, the oversight of seeking the truth about the most fundamental action a person takes, [which] is voting" (Politico interview).

            > Trump says he’s settled on commercial litigator Pat Cipollone to be his next White House counsel (The Associated Press). If Democrats gain control of the House next year, Cipollone would steer a defense team confronted with congressional probes of the White House and executive agencies (The Hill).

*** SPOTTED at last night’s party at Bobby Van’s restaurant in the nation’s capital honoring Chris Stirewalt of Fox News for his new book “Every Man A King”: Sara and Ron Bonjean, former Rep. Robert HurtRobert HurtThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — GOP faces ‘green wave’ in final stretch to the midterms Democrat defeats controversial chair of House Wall Street subpanel Republican groups launch final ad blitz in key House battlegrounds MORE (R-Va.), Charles Hurt, Bill Sammon, Christina Robbins, Geoff Earle, Eliana Johnson, Daniel Lippman, Richard Fowler, Daniel Harper, Mike Emanuel and The Hill’s very own Niall Stanage and Bob Cusack. ***

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The House and Senate are out of Washington until after Election Day.

The president meets with “workers” in the Oval Office to talk about goals to reduce federal red tape and requirements. Later he convenes a meeting of his Cabinet. In the afternoon, Trump presents the Medal of Honor.

First lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpJill Biden, Kate Middleton visit school together in first meeting Jill Biden wears 'LOVE' jacket 'to bring unity' to meeting with Boris Johnson White House gets back to pre-COVID-19 normality MORE will travel to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia today as part of her Be Best campaign. She’ll meet with families affected by neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) and staff at the Jefferson University Medical Center Maternal Addiction, Treatment, Education and Research program. She’ll tour a neonatal intensive care nursery and deliver remarks at a convening conference hosted by the Health and Human Services Department (HHS). HHS Secretary Alex Azar will attend.

Pompeo met with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan this morning in Ankara. The State Department’s special representative for Syria engagement, Ambassador James Jeffrey, began a trip extending through Oct. 23 to Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia for discussions about Syria.

Treasury Department Assistant Secretary Heath Tarbert holds a press conference at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) finance ministers’ meeting in Papua New Guinea at 5 p.m. local time. (Pence is expected to represent the United States at the annual APEC forum next month.)

Justice Department Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinHouse Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week Media leaders to meet with Garland to discuss leak investigations MORE speaks at 3 p.m. about the opioid epidemic to the America’s Health Insurance Plans’ National Conference.

The Federal Reserve releases minutes from its Sept. 25-26 meeting at 2 p.m.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy releases the sixth edition of its report on state and local tax systems, “Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems of All 50 States,” at 9 a.m. on its website and holds a noon press conference. Previous reports: www.whopays.org.


Keep Medicare Part D working for seniors by preserving the tools that give them choice and control, keeping drug prices and premiums affordable. Learn more.



> U.S. airstrikes in Africa: The U.S. military on Tuesday announced its deadliest airstrikes in nearly a year against the al-Shabaab extremist group in Somalia, killing about 60 fighters (The Associated Press).

> Hurricane recovery: More than a thousand people remain missing a week after Hurricane Michael, although many may be with relatives or friends (Reuters). The full scope of the damage is becoming clear from reports like this, by The Associated Press, on the ground in Panama City.

> Iran: The U.S. has a new plan to force Iran out of Syria by squeezing the country financially (NBC News). … Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia does a big favor for Iran (The Atlantic).

> Cash to Congress: Kaiser Health News unveils a new, searchable 10-year database of campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies to lawmakers HERE. One eager recipient of donations since last year: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse fails to pass bill to promote credit fairness for LGTBQ-owned businesses Democrats weigh next steps on Jan. 6 probe McCarthy pushes back on Biden criticism of GOP at NATO MORE (R-Calif.), who aspires to become Speaker. … Meanwhile, the Trump administration is in a face-off with the pharmaceutical lobby, seeking to require price disclosures in television ads aimed at consumers (The Hill).

> Tech: Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund owns stakes in U.S. tech startups and ties between U.S. tech giants and the Saudi royal family are suddenly strained as the United States and other nations demand answers about the reported murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (The Hill).

> Marijuana: Canada today became the second country in the world to legalize marijuana for all uses, setting off a “green rush” for profits (The New York Times).


And finally … Choctaw horses, a rare and dwindling breed known for their short stature, stocky frames and reliability and durability as work animals, are making a comeback in the Deep South.

Reporting from Poplarville, Miss., Associated Press reporter Janet McConnaughey writes that a “cream-colored stallion called DeSoto” sired six foals – “the first new blood in a century for a line of horses brought to America by Spanish conquistadors and bred by Choctaw Indians who were later forced out of their ancestral homelands.”

Choctaw horses were thought to be gone from the region but the surprise discovery of DeSoto more than a decade ago provoked a renewed push to breed the horses. It’s paid off to the tune of more than 300 Choctaw horses now in Mississippi, born from breeding only nine mares and three stallions.