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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 RyanBiden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Inauguration Day Revising the pardon power — let the Speaker and Congress have voices 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 CruzSenate to vote Tuesday on Biden's secretary of State pick To 'lower the temperature' raise commitments to federalism Leahy, not Roberts, to preside over impeachment trial 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 TrumpSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses Nurse to be tapped by Biden as acting surgeon general: report Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency 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 McSallyCindy McCain on possible GOP censure: 'I think I'm going to make T-shirts' Arizona state GOP moves to censure Cindy McCain, Jeff Flake Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed MORE (R) gains in Arizona Senate race (The Weekly Standard) … Democrats rush to save Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden must wait weekend for State Department pick Senate presses Biden's pick for secretary of State on Iran, China, Russia and Yemen Year-end deal creates American Latino, women's history museums MORE in New Jersey (The Hill) … Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampHarrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment Biden to tap Vilsack for Agriculture secretary: reports OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA guidance may exempt some water polluters from Supreme Court permit mandate | Vilsack's stock rises with Team Biden | Arctic wildfires linked to warming temperatures: NOAA 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).




LEADING THE DAY

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 McConnellSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses McConnell: Power-sharing deal can proceed after Manchin, Sinema back filibuster Budowsky: A Biden-McConnell state of emergency summit 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 MeadowsThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Inauguration Day Trump leaves White House, promises to be back in 'some form' LIVE INAUGURATION COVERAGE: Biden signs executive orders; press secretary holds first briefing 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).

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

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 WarrenTim Ryan says he's 'looking seriously' at running for Portman's Senate seat Leahy, not Roberts, to preside over impeachment trial Skepticism reigns as Biden, McConnell begin new era 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 PompeoChina: US military presence in South China Sea a threat to peace, stability White House installs new leadership at federally-funded international broadcasters US carrier group enters South China Sea amid tensions between China, Taiwan 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 KavanaughUndoing Trump will take more than executive orders LIVE INAUGURATION COVERAGE: Biden signs executive orders; press secretary holds first briefing Harris to resign from Senate seat on Monday 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 SessionsWith another caravan heading North, a closer look at our asylum law Harris to resign from Senate seat on Monday Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' 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."

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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 PelosiOklahoma man who videotaped himself with his feet on desk in Pelosi's office during Capitol riot released on bond House formally sends impeachment to Senate, putting Trump on trial for Capitol riot With another caravan heading North, a closer look at our asylum law 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. ***

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!

OPINION

To save America, we must repair and modernize our politics, by John J. Grossenbacher, opinion contributor, The Hill. http://bit.ly/2COvzsG

The downsides of bipartisanship, by David S. D’Amato, opinion contributor, The Hill. http://bit.ly/2J3nPmH

WHERE AND WHEN

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 TrumpScorned and mistreated, Melania Trump deserved much better from the media The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' K Street navigates virtual inauguration week 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 RosensteinRosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' Comey argues Trump shouldn't be prosecuted after leaving Oval Office Trump turns his ire toward Cabinet members 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.

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ELSEWHERE

> 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 McCarthyCheney spokesperson on Gaetz: 'In Wyoming, the men don't wear make-up' Biden attends first church service as president in DC, stops at local bagel shop House GOP leader says he has 'concerns' over Cheney's impeachment vote 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).

THE CLOSER

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.