The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Trump, Obama head to swing states with Senate majority in balance

The Hill's Morning Report  — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Trump, Obama head to swing states with Senate majority in balance
© Getty Images
The Hill’s Morning Report: Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report and TGIF! Our daily email gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch, co-created by Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger. (CLICK HERE to subscribe!) On Twitter, find us at @joneasley and @asimendinger.

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.); Charlotte Pence, daughter of Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceWhy do so many Democrats embrace hate speech? Overnight Health Care: Trump officials sued over Medicaid work requirements in New Hampshire | Analysis contradicts HHS claims on Arkansas Medicaid changes | Azar signals HHS won't back down on e-cigs Trump health chief backs needle exchanges in anti-HIV strategy MORE and author of “Where You Go: Life Lessons from My Father”; and Common Cause’s Stephen Spaulding, chief of strategy and external affairs.

The Washington Wizards fell in the final seconds to the Miami Heat, 112-113, in Thursday’s season opener at Capital One Arena. The Washington Post’s headline said it all: “Opening Burn.”

The big guns are headed to the Southwest this weekend with the Senate majority hanging in the balance and only 18 days to go until the midterm elections.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Countdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Omar: White supremacist attacks are rising because Trump publicly says 'Islam hates us' MORE, fresh off a rally in Montana last night for Republican Senate candidate Matt Rosendale, heads to Mesa, Ariz., today to gin-up support for Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyArpaio's wife recovering after rattlesnake bite in Arizona Former astronaut running for Senate in Arizona returns money from paid speech in UAE The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game MORE (R), who is running neck-and-neck with Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) in the race to replace Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump's attacks on McCain exacerbate tensions with Senate GOP Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar Trump keeps tight grip on GOP MORE (R).

On Saturday, Trump will touch down in Elko, Nev., to rally voters for 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-Nev.), whose race against Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority The Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations MORE (D-Nev.) is also a toss-up.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Lessons from the 1999 U.S. military intervention in Kosovo Biden, Sanders edge Trump in hypothetical 2020 matchups in Fox News poll MORE will also be in Nevada on Saturday but more than 300 miles directly south, in Las Vegas, where he’ll campaign for Rosen and the entire Democratic ticket in Nevada.

Former President Obama follows Biden to Las Vegas on Monday for a rare appearance on the campaign trail.

Arizona and Nevada represent the best pickup opportunities for Democrats in the Senate. If Republicans can hold one or both, they’ll effectively close off the Democratic path to a majority in the Senate, barring an upset in Texas or Tennessee. 

FiveThirtyEight: Democrats prospects worsen in Arizona and Nevada.


> In Arizona, the battle between two female House members is going down to the wire.

Recent polling shows McSally and Sinema are tied or within the margin of error of one another.

Sinema has absorbed some tough headlines in recent weeks. She was criticized for cutting remarks about Arizona dug up from her past, and for radio comments dating to 2003, when she told a broadcaster she didn’t care if he joined the Taliban. At a debate this week, McSally equated the remarks with treason.

Sinema, who was once a member of the Green Party, wouldn’t say in a local radio interview on Thursday if she’s “proud” to be a Democrat. She’s working to cast herself as a moderate in a state Trump won in 2016 and that hasn’t had a Democratic senator in more than 20 years.

Rafael Bernal reports that Democrats are banking on Arizona’s growing Hispanic population turning out in Arizona in 2018 but are fearful of a repeat of the 2016 election, when the long-awaited demographic shift failed to turn the state blue (The Hill).


> In Nevada, Heller has led Rosen in all three surveys released in October but his lead in the RealClearPolitics average is at only 1.7 points.

Like McSally, Heller declined to endorse Trump during the 2016 campaign and the two had a rocky relationship early on. But both candidates have moved closer to the president to appeal to his enthusiastic base of supporters and now will benefit from Trump’s vigorous commitment to electing Republicans in the Senate.

Can Trump help put Heller over the top in Nevada? Or will the Obama-Biden one-two punch energize Democrats in a state that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Ex-Clinton aide: Dems should make 2020 'about integrity' Trump mounts Rust Belt defense MORE won narrowly in 2016?

Heller and Rosen will hold a debate tonight at 9 p.m. that will air on C-SPAN.

There are also competitive House races in both states that could determine who wins the majority. Bad news for one Republican in Nevada: Reid Wilson reports that the National Republican Congressional Committee has cancelled more than $1.2 million in late advertising for former Rep. Crescent Hardy’s (R) comeback bid, believing his swing district race against former Rep. Steven HorsfordSteven Alexander HorsfordDems warn against deporting former Trump golf course workers Ten Dem lawmakers added to House Ways and Means Committee Nevada Democrat calls Trump’s focus on border wall ‘unfortunate and unnecessary’ MORE (D) is a lost cause (The Hill).


> Trump keeps up his busy campaign schedule on Monday, this time with a rally for Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCountdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Ex-Clinton aide: Dems should make 2020 'about integrity' Cruz: House 'fully intends' to impeach Trump MORE (R-Texas), who appears to finally be pulling away from Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), the Democratic Party’s new fundraising juggernaut.

The Trump-Cruz rally has been moved from an 8,000-seat arena to an even bigger venue, the Toyota Center, where the hometown Houston Rockets play. 



O’Rourke got his own CNN special on Thursday, saying during a town hall Q&A that he would still vote to impeach Trump (CNN). 

Vice President Pence will also be fanning out this weekend, with stops in Topeka, Kan., and Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday. On Saturday, the vice president is off to West Virginia, where Republican Patrick Morissey is trying to stage a late comeback to unseat Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinRomney helps GOP look for new path on climate change Manchin says he won't support LGBTQ protection bill as written Senators offer bipartisan bill to fix 'retail glitch' in GOP tax law MORE (D).

The stakes are high across the board:

The Hill: GOP targets likely Dem committee chairmen in midterms push.

Reuters: Democratic victory in November would put Trump under the microscope. 

More from the campaign trail … Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate (The Hill) … Trump praises Montana congressman who body-slammed reporter (The Associated Press) … Republicans are playing hardball as they race to confirm Trump’s judicial picks before the midterms (The Hill) … Democratic Congressional candidates have raised more than $1 billion (The Washington Post) … Where CEOs rank in political spending (MarketWatch) … Democrats mount a Midwestern comeback (McClatchy) … Meet the Republicans’ best shot at a flipping a House seat (The New York Times).




SAUDI ARABIA & KHASHOGGI: Trump said Thursday it "certainly looks" like Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead (The Hill). The Washington Post contributing columnist, who resided in the United States in exile, has been missing since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

"It certainly looks that way to me. It's very sad," Trump told reporters hours after meeting with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoFive things to watch as AIPAC conference kicks off US sanctions Venezuelan bank after Guaidó aide's arrest The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game MORE, who has just returned from conferring with the Saudi royal family in Riyadh (The Hill).

The president said “it’s bad, bad stuff,” adding the international consequences for evidence of Saudi involvement in Khashoggi’s apparent murder will be “very severe.”

The Hill: Trump changes tone on Saudi Arabia amid mounting pressure.

The Washington Post: Trump’s conservative allies on Capitol Hill mount a smear campaign against Khashoggi to help president navigate alleged murder.

Trump has repeatedly said he opposes any economic punishment against Saudi Arabia, arguing sanctions by Congress to block arms sales or apply punishment in Riyadh would damage U.S. defense contracts and economic interests.

Some Middle East experts, however, say Saudi Arabia needs the United States more than the United States needs the oil-rich kingdom.

The New York Times: Saudi rulers are considering pinning blame for murder on Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, a top intelligence official close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Initially, the Saudis insisted that Khashoggi departed the consulate on Oct. 2 without incident. If they concede the journalist – an avowed critic of the kingdom’s rulers – was slain and by someone close to the crown prince, it would underscore the pressure felt by the international backlash.

Pompeo advised Trump, who previously floated the idea that “rogue killers” murdered the missing journalist, that the Saudis need several more days to complete an internal investigation and issue a report (Reuters).

Turkish and U.S. intelligence believe audio and video evidence may implicate the royal family, and specifically the 33-year-old crown prince.



> Lobbying in the United States on behalf of the Saudi government has tripled since Trump took office (Time). 

> Niall Stanage: Saudi storm darkens for Trump.

> Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump officials heading to China for trade talks next week US sanctions Venezuelan bank after Guaidó aide's arrest Treasury expands penalty relief to more taxpayers MORE, after conferring with Trump and Pompeo on Thursday, announced on Twitter he has withdrawn his attendance next week at a global investment conference organized by Saudi Arabia. His decision occurred 16 days after Khashoggi was reported missing and possibly slain. Major corporate sponsors and global executives previously declared they would no longer participate (Bloomberg).


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: The president threatened Mexico with military action if the government there does not stop Central American immigrants from making their way toward the U.S. border (The Hill). Trump is upset that a caravan of at least 4,000 migrants from Honduras is making its way north.

The Hill: Trump amps up immigration fight for midterms.


> Mexico's foreign ministry said it would ask the United Nations refugee agency for help coordinating with Central American governments related to people seeking refugee status at Mexico's southern border (Reuters).


> White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE and national security adviser John Bolton got into a tense shouting match outside the Oval Office on Thursday, reportedly while discussing the Department of Homeland Security and the surge of migrants trekking toward the U.S. border (Bloomberg).

Rather than downplay the loudly contentious argument, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders implicitly confirmed it and attempted to blame Democrats in a written statement that echoed the president’s recent campaign rhetoric.

“While we are passionate about solving the issue of illegal immigration, we are not angry at one another. However, we are furious at the failure of congressional Democrats to help us address this growing crisis. They should be ashamed for pushing an open borders agenda and are only doing this for strictly political reasons. Despite us having the worst laws in the world and no help from democrats, our Administration is doing a great job on the border.” — Sanders


> Nearly 250 migrant children remain separated from their parents following the Trump administration’s since-ended “zero tolerance” border enforcement this year, the American Civil Liberties Union reports (The Washington Post).

Federal spending and deficits: Feeling the political heat from Democrats about rising federal deficits and debt, the president vows to curb unspecified spending beginning with his next federal budget proposal, which his administration will send to Congress early next year for fiscal 2020.

Separate from Trump’s insistence on increased funding for the wall and border security this year, the two parties are accusing each other of excessive spending, while disagreeing about what’s to blame.

In particular, Republicans argue that Democrats are big spenders, saying it’s the spending that has ballooned deficits. Democrats, meanwhile, point to GOP tax cuts as the driver of surging deficits and lower revenues. In addition, progressives tell voters that GOP candidates want to cut Social Security, Medicare and benefits for the poor (The Washington Post).

West Wing turnstile: Don McGahn left his job as White House counsel on Wednesday, another departure in an unprecedented cycle of personnel turnover at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. measured at this point in any modern presidency (The New York Times).

Trump moved White House attorney Emmet Flood into the post of counsel temporarily until litigator Pat Cipollone (CNN) arrives to take over (The Hill).


INVESTIGATIONS: Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinWill the Mueller report go public? The courts, not Barr, may ultimately decide Mueller figures celebrate end of probe Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE will sit for interviews with a pair of House committees next week, where he’ll have to answer for a New York Times report that he considered recording Trump and pursuing use of the 25th Amendment to have the president removed from office (The Hill). 

Rosenstein has denied the report and Trump has said the two have talked and that they are on the same page.

But House conservatives, led by Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsConservatives wage assault on Mueller report Trump, Congress brace for Mueller findings CNN's Toobin: 'Swirl of suspicion' about more indictments not justified MORE (R-N.C.), are not convinced, and remain eager to see Rosenstein removed from his perch overseeing special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s probe.



That tweet came after two GOP-led House panels interviewed former FBI lawyer James Baker, who testified that he believed Rosenstein was serious about wearing a wire with the president (The Hill).


> Separately, former FBI agent Terry Albury was sentenced to four years in prison on Thursday for leaking classified information to a reporter (The Associated Press).

Albury’s lawyers argued that he saw it as his moral duty to reveal what he viewed as racial profiling in the FBI’s counterterrorism efforts.

The conviction is the latest in the Justice Department’s muscular prosecutions of suspected government leakers.

The Intercept, which appears to have worked with Albury, has the backstory here.




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!


Celebrity endorsements aren’t king makers but they may be tiebreakers, by Anthony J. Nownes, opinion contributor, The Hill.

Khashoggi prompts Trump to reconsider human rights in foreign policy, by Elise Carlson-Rainer, opinion contributor, The Hill.


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

The president, campaigning in Arizona, holds a morning roundtable with supporters in Scottsdale, and speaks to a joint fundraising committee luncheon at noon in Scottsdale. After lunch, he will sign a presidential memorandum. From Scottsdale, Trump will head to Lucas Air Force Base for a tour and a “defense roundtable.” In the afternoon, he will fly to Mesa, Ariz., for his reelection rally at 6:30 p.m. The president will spend the night in Mesa, and will head on Saturday to Elko, Nev., for another campaign rally.

Pence has campaign stops planned today in Topeka, Kan., and Des Moines, Iowa. On Saturday, Pence will campaign in Bridgeport, W.Va.

The government’s report on existing-home sales for September will be released at 10 a.m. Analysts are watching for additional evidence that the U.S. housing market is cooling.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Biden, Sanders edge Trump in hypothetical 2020 matchups in Fox News poll Omar controversies shadow Dems at AIPAC MORE (D-Mass.) debates GOP Senate challenger Geoff Diehl at 8 p.m. in what is expected to be a lively event, including discussion of her interest in running for president and her release of a recent DNA test detailing her ancestry (C-SPAN & C-SPAN Radio coverage).

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) debates Democratic challenger Tony Evers at 9 p.m. as part of tough contest for the incumbent (C-SPAN2 broadcasts).

Washington’s Humane Rescue Alliance on Saturday holds its annual black-tie fundraising gala, the “Bark Ball,” at the Washington Hilton hotel, 6-10 p.m. Guests, expected to include VIPs and regular folks, are invited to bring their canine pals as dates. A pawfect cause! Information is HERE.


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.


>  Cyber protection: The U.K.'s National Cyber Security Centre is a relatively new agency responsible for protecting Britain from cyber threats. The U.S. has nothing like it (NBC News).

> Catholic Church: Federal prosecutors opened an investigation in Pennsylvania into allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy, following a widely read set of findings by a state grand jury covering decades of alleged abuse of minors and adults (The Associated Press).

> Lottery allure: What happens if you win the Mega Millions jackpot, perhaps tonight? Odds: 1 in 302.5 million to pick six winning numbers. Jackpot: $970 million. Note: Taxes, as a general rule, swallow nearly half of lottery winnings (The Associated Press).





And finally ... Winners of this week’s Morning Report QUIZ CONTEST! We tested readers’ trivia knowledge about the West and Southwest, inspired by the fact that the president is in the midst of campaigning for GOP candidates beyond the Midwest and the South, for a change.

The winning guessers this week are Travis Moore, Liz Mair, Anita Bales, Carolyn Dixon, Sandy Sycafoose and Peter J. Sprofera.

They knew that Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson (among the choices presented in The Hill’s puzzle) were born in Western states that rarely send presidents to the White House. Nixon’s birthplace was California, while Ike and LBJ began their lives in Texas.

The first woman to ever hold federal office in the United States hailed from Montana. Jeannette Pickering Rankin, who died in 1973, was elected to the House in 1916 and again in 1940.

President Obama became the fifth sitting president to visit Yosemite National Park in California in 2016, so the correct answer was “four.”  

Trump’s grandfather, Friedrich Trump, came from Germany to America at age 16 and eventually created a lodging business in Seattle before the gold rush pulled him to the Yukon.

Among the Western states of Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota, Wyoming has the smallest population, estimated this year to be 573,720 (Milwaukee is home to more people than the entire state of Wyoming).