The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns




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Turn on the television in the final weeks before Election Day and you can expect to see an advertisement with a politician talking about health care.

Democrats have seized on the issue and believe they have Republicans off-balance. Liberals are thrilled that Democratic candidates appear to have settled on a kitchen table issue, rather than running on impeachment or the controversy of the day in Washington.

The Associated Press: Democrats go all-in on health care.   

The New Republic: Democrats finally have a midterms message in health care.

Following the bitter Supreme Court confirmation battle for Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump The Hill's Morning Report — Category 5 Mueller storm to hit today On The Money: Cain 'very committed' to Fed bid despite opposition | Pelosi warns no US-UK trade deal if Brexit harms Irish peace | Ivanka Trump says she turned down World Bank job MORE, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars Dem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage Former FBI official praises Barr for 'professional' press conference MORE (N.Y.) sought to turn the page quickly, and Democrats were able to force a vote on eliminating short-term health-care plans that don’t cover pre-existing conditions.

The Senate was split 50-50. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCollins: Mueller report includes 'an unflattering portrayal' of Trump GOP senator: 'No problem' with Mueller testifying The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? MORE (R-Maine) voted with Democrats but was the only GOP member to cross party lines.

Now, The Hill’s Reid Wilson reports that across the country, Democratic candidates are running ads focused on a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel (R), which argues that the Affordable Care Act was rendered unconstitutional by the GOP’s tax overhaul.

Federal court judges in Fort Worth weighed opening arguments on the matter last month. Democrats are using the lawsuit as a cudgel against Republican candidates from the top of the ballot on down.

There’s suddenly been a noticeable shift among Republicans on the most popular provision in ObamaCare, underscored by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMichael Bennet declared cancer-free, paving way for possible 2020 run Booker, Harris have missed most Senate votes O'Rourke sweeps through Virginia looking to energize campaign MORE’s (R-Texas) pledge to protect people with pre-existing conditions during a heated debate on Tuesday night against Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas).

The Hill: Cruz softens ObamaCare attacks highlighting GOP shift.

The issue carries weight with voters. President TrumpDonald John TrumpImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Feds say marijuana ties could prevent immigrants from getting US citizenship Trump approval drops to 2019 low after Mueller report's release: poll MORE for weeks has been trying to help GOP candidates as they defend the core tenet of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits insurers from turning down coverage for clients who have pre-existing medical conditions.

    “We totally support people with pre-existing conditions. We have a tremendous level of talent, and we’re doing a lot of work on pre-existing conditions." – Trump

The New York Times reports:

“For months, Democratic candidates have been running hard on health care, while Republicans have said little about it. In a sign of the issue’s potency, Republicans are now playing defense, releasing a wave of ads promising they will preserve protections for Americans with pre-existing health conditions.”

However, on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFormer Bush assistant: Mueller report makes Obama look 'just plain bad' 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform Dem says marijuana banking bill will get House vote this spring MORE (R-Ky.) said during an interview with Reuters that Republicans might try to repeal ObamaCare again next year if they keep the majority.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said those remarks reveal the GOP is being dishonest about where it stands on pre-existing conditions:

“Republican Senate candidates have been lying on the campaign trail about their promise to protect pre-existing conditions – and Mitch McConnell just blew their cover.”

Is it a winning issue for Democrats?

It might depend on the state, as premium costs in the federal and state exchanges and among employer-provided plans vary widely.

USA Today: Health care is a key national issue but the real action may happen at the state level.

But a new survey of a key voting demographic for any midterm cycle might be a warning sign for Republicans:

Morning Consult: In departure from past elections, seniors lean toward Democrats.

Health care – and every issue that falls under that broad umbrella –  may not appear explicitly on ballots next month, but it’s definitely on voters’ minds. The Wesleyan Media Project reported this breakdown of nationwide political ads from September, and health care dominated.




CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: Trump is heading west to protect, and possibly help expand, the GOP majority in the Senate.

The president’s next four campaign stops are in Montana, Arizona, Nevada and Texas.

A quick run through those states…

> Montana: Tonight, Trump will campaign for Republican Matt Rosendale, who trails Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) Tester20 Dems demand no more money for ICE agents, Trump wall Overnight Energy: Bipartisan Senate group seeks more funding for carbon capture technology | Dems want documents on Interior pick's lobbying work | Officials push to produce more electric vehicle batteries in US Bipartisan senators want 'highest possible' funding for carbon capture technology MORE (D) by only 3 points, according to the RealClearPolitics average. There haven’t been any polls of the race since the Kavanaugh confirmation fight, which boosted GOP Senate candidates in other red states.

Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent House Dem calls on lawmakers to 'insulate' election process following Mueller report Hillicon Valley: Cyber, tech takeaways from Mueller report | Millions of Instagram passwords exposed internally by Facebook | DHS unrolling facial recognition tech in airports | Uber unveils new safety measures after student's killing MORE and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News host, will swing through for Rosendale next week as part of a two-day bus tour.

Tester got a boost last night from actor Jeff Bridges, aka “The Dude,” who urged young voters at Montana State University to turn out for the Democrat.

“A flattop-ed, seven-fingered dirt farmer. A champion for vets, public lands, education, health. Come on — that's true grit, man. I'm talking about Jon Tester. Vote by Nov. 6.” Bridges

> Arizona: Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyTrump gives nod to vulnerable GOP Sen. McSally with bill signing Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 Gallego tapped as national campaign chairman for Swalwell presidential bid MORE (R) is hoping that momentum has swung her way against Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) in the race to replace outgoing Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakePollster says Trump unlikely to face 'significant' primary challenge Trump gives nod to vulnerable GOP Sen. McSally with bill signing Flake opens up about threats against him and his family MORE (R-Ariz.). The polls are tight, but McSally’s campaign has been highlighting a video of Sinema calling Arizona the “meth lab of democracy.” This is one of two states where Democrats have a pickup opportunity. It’s a must-win if they hope to have a shot at the majority in the Senate.

> Nevada: The other state where Democrats are on offense. Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary Oregon Dem top recipient of 2018 marijuana industry money, study finds MORE (R) is trying to hang on against Rep. Jacky Rosen (D). Recent polls show Heller leading by a razor-thin margin.

Former President Obama and former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenResurfaced Buttigieg yearbook named him 'most likely to be president' On The Money: House Dem says marijuana banking bill will get vote in spring | Buttigieg joins striking Stop & Shop workers | US home construction slips in March | Uber gets B investment for self-driving cars The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems face tricky balancing act after Mueller report MORE will swing through for Rosen and other Nevada Democrats this weekend.

> Texas: Cruz will get the full Trump rally treatment at an 8,000-seat stadium in Houston on Monday. The Texas Republican is hoping it will help him dispense with the spirited challenge from O’Rourke once and for all.

More from the campaign trail … The odds are your next governor will be a Democrat (FiveThirtyEight) … Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampPro-trade groups enlist another ex-Dem lawmaker to push for Trump's NAFTA replacement Pro-trade group targets 4 lawmakers in push for new NAFTA Biden office highlights support from women after second accuser comes forward MORE (D-N.D.) fires staffer responsible for a campaign ad that named sexual abuse victims without their permission (The Associated Press) … Republicans are worried that Trump’s personal attacks against women will hurt their chances with female voters in the suburbs (The Hill)… Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDems reject Barr's offer to view Mueller report with fewer redactions Five takeaways from Mueller's report Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (D-Calif.), during a Wednesday debate in her state, and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars DOJ: Dem subpoena for Mueller report is 'premature and unnecessary' Dems reject Barr's offer to view Mueller report with fewer redactions MORE (R-S.C.), during a television appearance, each said if their respective parties control the Senate in 2019, they would revisit the Kavanaugh investigation from opposing corners.

***FIRST LOOK***  We the Action, a nonpartisan group chaired by Marc Elias, the general counsel to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Former Bush assistant: Mueller report makes Obama look 'just plain bad' Seth Rich's brother calls for those pushing conspiracy to 'take responsibility' MORE’s 2016 campaign, has launched a new campaign to recruit lawyers in a voter protection and election integrity effort. The group has in the past connected lawyers with nonprofit groups on issues like immigration and women’s rights. Watch the ad for the new campaign here.




INVESTIGATIONS: Following the midterm elections, special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE will report to Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Collins: Mueller report includes 'an unflattering portrayal' of Trump Holder: Any 'competent' prosecutor could win obstruction case against Trump MORE findings on two questions: Whether Russia conspired or colluded with Trump’s campaign to influence the 2016 campaign, and whether the president or other officials acted with intent to try to obstruct justice (Bloomberg). Bloomberg’s sources offered no indications about the details of Mueller’s conclusions.

> Rosenstein granted a rare interview to The Wall Street Journal’s Sadie Gurman, which you can read HERE. He said he doesn’t know Mueller’s timetable.

> Mueller’s witnesses: The special counsel’s ability to turn Trump associates into willing cooperators has been key to his investigation, lending both credibility and strength to a probe that is now a year and a half old, legal analysts tell The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant.

> A Treasury Department official has been criminally charged with leaking confidential information to a news media outlet, related to the Mueller probe, officials said on Wednesday (The Hill).




SAUDI ARABIA & KHASHOGGI: Turkish news media described on Wednesday how Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was interrogated and tortured on Oct. 2, as his fingers were severed, his head cut off and his corpse dismembered. How long did his murder take? Minutes. Implicated as a witness: Saudi Arabia’s consul in Istanbul, Mohammad al-Otaibi (The New York Times).

The Associated Press: Police searched the Saudi consul’s residence for evidence.

Khashoggi has not officially been declared dead by any authority.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Pompeo rejects North Korean call for him to leave negotiations | Trump talk with rebel Libyan general raises eyebrows | New setback to Taliban talks The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems face tricky balancing act after Mueller report Pompeo: 'I'm still in charge of' North Korea negotiation team MORE capped off meetings with the Saudi royal family in Riyadh and with officials in Turkey and told reporters the Trump administration awaited a “thorough, complete and transparent” investigation by the Saudi government and a report on its findings. Pompeo declined to discuss any potential U.S. response, should evidence establish that Saudi nationals tortured and killed Khashoggi, who had been living in exile in the United States.

The Hill: Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAppeals court rules House chaplain can reject secular prayers FEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday MORE (R-Wis.) on Wednesday expressed openness to U.S. sanctions against Saudi Arabia but GOP leaders are largely hesitant to challenge the president here. Trump has repeatedly expressed his opposition to blocking arms sales or rendering other economic punishment, noting that Khashoggi is not a U.S. citizen and the administration places a premium on the value to U.S. defense contractors of contracts with Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi government initially claimed Khashoggi entered and then left the consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Their official statement at the time was that Khashoggi, a frequent critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the pages of The Washington Post departed at will.

The Hill: Five things to know about the 33-year-old crown prince.

The New York Times: U.S. intelligence agencies believe bin Salman is culpable in Khashoggi’s death.

“This could not have happened without his approval.” – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPollster says Trump unlikely to face 'significant' primary challenge GOP gets used to saying 'no' to Trump Democrats introduce bill to rein in Trump on tariffs MORE (R-Tenn.), speaking of the prince, known as MBS

Trump said on Wednesday the administration wants to hear any audio and see any video evidence Turkey may have obtained – evidence reported to establish in grisly detail what happened to the journalist when he was detained in the consulate (The Hill).

A challenge for the administration during the controversy: The United States has no confirmed ambassadors to either Saudi Arabia or Turkey (The Hill).

The global backlash about Khashoggi’s fate is fueled in part by news outlets’ coverage of  the deadly outcome for many investigative journalists who report in countries where powerful figures see their work and a free press as threatening.

The Poynter Institute on Wednesday cited Transparency International’s report about more than 360 journalists murdered between 2012 and 2017, including many who were working at the time of their deaths in countries widely viewed as corrupt. On the list: Daphne Caruana Galizia of Malta; Viktoria Marinova of Bulgaria; Ján Kuciak of Slovakia and Mario Gomez Sanchez, slain in Mexico.

The Associated Press analysis: In Trump’s administration, where do human rights rank? Economy (and relationships) over morality?

The Washington Post: Recap of Trump’s long business interests with Saudi Arabia.

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


Republicans should prepare for Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform Hillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars MORE to be the next Speaker, by Lloyd Green, opinion contributor, The Hill.

Is it time to punish false accusers? by Wendy McElroy, opinion contributor, The Hill.

Trump has given every despot on the planet a license to kill, by Max Boot, The Washington Post


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

The president meets with Pompeo at the White House, and meets at 2 p.m. with the South Carolina GOP congressional delegation in the Roosevelt Room. Trump departs Washington for an evening rally in Missoula, Mont., and spends the night in Phoenix, Ariz.

Vice President Pence departs Washington this morning for Denver, where he attends a political lunch at noon, then departs Colorado for Tulsa, Okla. In the afternoon in Tulsa, he attends a political event to support Republican Kevin Stitt for governor (against Democrat Drew Edmondson), and headlines a roundtable with the Republican Governors’ Association. In the evening in Oklahoma, he speaks at a GOP rally at the Mabee Center, then flies to Wichita, Kan. The vice president will attend another roundtable event organized with the Republican Governors’ Association in Kansas, and then campaign for Kris Kobach (R), who is running in a tight race for governor against Democrat Laura Kelly.

Treasury Department Fiscal Assistant Secretary David Lebryk speaks at 9:30 a.m. at an anti-fraud event featuring chief financial officers, sponsored by the Partnership for Public Service in Washington.

“Take on America,” a new OZY primetime series of town hall discussions launches tonight on PBS, OZY and YouTube. The series examines national issues through the lens of race, bringing in political newsmakers and celebrity guests. Episodes are “Black Men in Baltimore,” “White Women in Nashville,” “Latino Families in New York,” and “Asian Millennials in San Francisco.”

CNN hosts a televised town hall with Democrat O’Rourke tonight in McAllen, Texas. Cruz pulled out of the event after initially accepting the invitation (


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.


> Tech: Facebook has tentatively concluded spammers seeking to make money, not a nation state, were behind the company’s largest-ever theft of data (The Wall Street Journal).

> Education: ACT scores show a drop in college readiness for students, particularly in math (The Wall Street Journal).

> Disaster recovery: In Florida’s Panhandle, reports of armed looters, seriously challenged law enforcement, slowly reawakened cellular service and sweltering heat (The Associated Press).

> Cryptocurrency: Surveying the boom and bust of cryptocurrencies in the ongoing argument over whether bitcoin, ethereum and blockchain technologies will really change the world (The New Yorker).

> Guns: `I forgot I had my gun with me,’ is an explanation travelers are using more often as their bags get flagged at D.C. area airports, according to the Transportation Security Administration (WTOP). Twenty firearms have been discovered with air travelers trying to board at BWI International Airport this year, and 13 so far at Reagan National.

> Immigration: The number of migrant families crossing the U.S. border hit a new record in the three months after the Trump administration ended its separation of families at the U.S. border (The Washington Post). … Meanwhile, the Honduran migrant caravan moving through Central America toward the United States grew to 4,000 people (NBC News).

> Halloween: 10 places for adults to find a costume in the Washington area (DCist).




And finally ... It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for the Morning Report QUIZ CONTEST!

Send your best guesses to or (and please put “Quiz” in your subject line).

You’re a winner in Friday’s newsletter if you send us all the correct answers.

Because the president is hopscotching through the West and Southwest in the next few days to mobilize voters to support GOP candidates, we’re gazing in that direction for this week’s puzzle. So, westward ho!

Among the 45 U.S. presidents, very few were born in states considered part of the mainland West and Southwest. Pick the three among these options who were exceptions.

  1. Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and Grover Cleveland.
  2. Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson.
  3. Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman and William McKinley.
  4. Woodrow Wilson, George W. Bush, Franklin Roosevelt.

The first woman to ever hold federal office in the United States came from which western state?

  1. California
  2. Montana
  3. Idaho
  4. New Mexico

In June 2016, former President Obama and his family visited Yosemite National Park in California. How many sitting presidents before him had also visited Yosemite?

  1. None
  2. Two
  3. Three
  4. Four

Trump’s grandfather, Friedrich Trump, migrated from Germany to America at age 16. Friedrich arrived in Manhattan, but continued his journey west. In what U.S. city did he build a lodging business before gold rush fever drew him to the Yukon to find his fortune?

  1. San Francisco, Calif.
  2. Seattle, Wash.
  3. Las Vegas, Nev.
  4. Portland, Ore.

These states occupy a lot of land, but each gets only three Electoral College votes. Which of these states currently has the smallest population?

  1. Montana
  2. Wyoming
  3. South Dakota
  4. North Dakota