The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Final stretch to the midterms amid backdrop of violence




Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report and it’s Monday! 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 Neil Strauss, Republican Jewish Coalition spokesman, and Gil Preuss, CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, talking about the shooting in Pittsburgh, plus David Chipman, senior policy adviser to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), discussing last week’s package bomb threats.

⚾ The Boston Red Sox knocked out the Los Angeles Dodgers last night for the team’s fourth World Series title in 15 years. Journeyman outfielder Steve PearceStevan (Steve) Edward PearceNew Mexico Democrat releases final Spanish-language ad in toss-up race Five Latinas who could be Biden's running mate New Mexico Dems brace for crowded race to succeed Udall MORE was named World Series MVP.


The midterm elections take place in eight days and candidates are making their closing arguments to voters amid a backdrop of terror threats and violence that has stunned the nation and ignited debate in Washington over who is to blame.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal watchdog accuses VOA parent company of wrongdoing under Trump appointee Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list Ivanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds MORE expressed horror over the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue this weekend that left 11 people dead. The massacre came a day after authorities arrested the man suspected of mailing pipe bombs to top Democrats.

The president described the “hate in our country” as a “terrible, terrible thing” and said the death penalty would be fitting for the alleged Squirrel Hill shooter, who was apparently driven by hatred of Jews and refugees.

But Trump also said he would not scale back his aggressive and hostile tone toward his political enemies or the press, amid worries from lawmakers that the toxic political culture in Washington has spun out of control.

            “I’d have a much different tone, frankly, if the press was evenhanded. If the press was fair, I’d have a much different tone all the time. But I’m fighting the media, I’m fighting — the media is not being honest and I’m fighting that lack of honesty so I have to have that tone. Otherwise I’ll never get my points across, we’ll never get what we have to get across, and we are making America great again.” — Trump

The New York Times: For Trump, dutiful words of grief, then off to the next fight.

The Associated Press: Politics presses on amid election-season tragedy.

Critics in both parties are pointing fingers at the the president, alleging that he’s set a permissive tone by flirting with fringe elements, stirring up racial animus and employing bare-knuckles rhetoric aimed at dividing, rather than uniting.

They want the occupant of the Oval Office to set a better example.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenLawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list GOP lawmaker blasts incoming freshman over allegations of presidential voter fraud Haaland has competition to be first Native American to lead Interior  MORE accused the president of giving hatred “a safe harbor,” pointing to Trump’s remarks after the deadly Charlottesville, Va., protests as an example of his permissive attitude toward bigotry and violence.

“Hate is on the march in America. And when hatred is given a safe harbor, when it’s given space to fester, when it brazenly puts itself on display in a historic American city, when its distorted world view is fueled uninterrupted in forum after forum on the web, when it hears an American political leadership say good people can be found among those spewing this ugly bile — it grows.” — Biden

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffBarr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Trump pardons Flynn | Lawmakers lash out at decision | Pentagon nixes Thanksgiving dining hall meals due to COVID-19 Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn MORE (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump’s expression of regret over the massacre at the synagogue “rings hollow.”

“The person with the biggest bully pulpit right now is the president of the United States, for better or worse. And it's mostly for worse.  And the way that he continues to divide us, the way that really his whole political strategy is about division, creates a toxic climate, a climate that is just sulfurous … you cannot preach division 365 days a year, you can't stoke people's animus towards the other, you can't vilify people coming to the country as murderers and rapists, and then, on the day tragedy strikes, sound a different note.” — Schiff

And Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordEthics experts ask Senate to investigate Graham's probe of mail-in voting The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Capital One - Pfizer unveils detailed analysis of COVID-19 vaccine & next steps GOP senators congratulate Harris on Senate floor MORE (R-Okla.) was among those urging the president to reconsider his tone.

"I think the president needs to be more clear in his rhetoric, and doesn't need to be as caustic in his rhetoric." – Lankford on CBS’s “Face the Nation”

The White House is rejecting the connection between Trump’s rhetoric and the recent spate of threats and violence.

            “Everyone has their own style, and frankly, people on both sides of the aisle use strong language about our political differences. But I just don’t think you can connect it to acts or threats of violence … The president and I have different styles, but the president connected to the American people because he spoke plainly.” — Vice President Pence

Of course, the heated rhetoric, threats of violence and political attacks are not confined to one party. Trump and his family receive daily threats and the shooter who nearly killed House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTop Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' New RSC chairman sees 'Trumpism' as future MORE (R-La.) last year was a liberal activist.

There is no direct connection between the shooting suspect in Pittsburgh and the president or right-wing politics.

Sen. Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms Overnight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases Bipartisan Senate group holding coronavirus relief talks amid stalemate MORE (D-Del.) said on Sunday that some in his party, such as Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersKatie Porter in heated exchange with Mnuchin: 'You're play-acting to be a lawyer' Emergency housing assistance for older adults needed now DeLauro wins Steering Committee vote for Appropriations chair MORE (D-Calif.), who has encouraged protesters to confront Republicans in public, go too far.

            "I think it's important that people who are in leadership nationally, who are well known, discourage that kind of aggressive advocacy." – Coons on CBS’s “Face the Nation”

The Hill: Lawmakers seek to quell partisan tensions after week of violence.

The Hill: Dem, GOP campaign chiefs call for week of unity.

Between now and Election Day, the president will campaign to energize conservative voters. His words at each rally and during a possible trip to Pittsburgh will be studied closely as Americans grapple with two inexplicable attacks, one based on religious hatred and the other apparently inspired by a virulent strain of partisanship.

Perspectives and Analyses

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Editorial Board): On good and evil.

Dan Balz: Trump at the center of the storm.

The Associated Press: Fed-up Americans crave unity amid violence.

Jim Rutenberg: Trump’s attacks on the news media are working.

Bari Weiss: A massacre in the heart of Mr. Rogers’s neighborhood.

Jason Sattler: The tide of hate and the man in the White House.

David Harsanyi: The left’s response to the mass shooting of Jews an act of bad faith.

Howard Fineman: The hatred of “the other” is poisoning our public life.

Joe Battenfeld: Blaming Trump and GOP could backfire on Dems.

Maureen Dowd: ‘Riling up the crazies’

Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper: Words alone won’t stop hatred and deaths.




CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: *** OF NOTE *** Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton offers congratulations over Elliot Page announcement Biden brushes off criticism of budget nominee Mellman: Mired in Partisanship MORE, who famously took long walks in the New York woods following her 2016 defeat, gives paid speeches nationwide and is helping Democratic candidates in the midterms, said Friday night that she doesn’t want to run again for office, but said she’ll think about it after Nov. 6. “I’d like to be president,” she said (The Hill).


Trump and Pence are fanning out this week in an effort to protect the GOP majority in the House and possibly grow their advantage in the Senate.

With a few exceptions, the president is sticking to states he won in 2016 where there are competitive Senate races. So far, Florida, Missouri, West Virginia and Montana are on his itinerary, but expect a few more stops to be announced in the coming days.

Trump appears intent on doubling down on the culture wars with attacks on the media and liberal “mobs.” Immigration and the migrant caravan making its way toward the U.S. will also be a major focus for the president in the coming days.

Democrats, meanwhile, are making health-care costs and bread-and-butter economic issues central to their closing argument.

The Hill: GOP, Dems offer sharply different closing arguments for midterms.

The Hill: Dems warn party message lacks punch.

The National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar reports that privately, House Republicans expect to lose 30 to 35 seats, but there are fears that their defeat could be even larger than that. Democrats need to flip 23 seats to win a majority in the House.

NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist Poll: Dems lead generic congressional ballot by 10 points.

In the Senate, however, the GOP majority is looking increasingly safe. Democrats need to go on a near-perfect run to flip the upper chamber, which seems unlikely.

CBS News battleground tracker: Florida Senate race tied; Dem has small lead in Arizona Senate; Republican has narrow lead in Indiana Senate race.

The Cook Political Report: New Jersey Senate race a “toss-up.”  

Out this morning — new data from the Harvard Institute of Politics on young voters:

  • 40 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 say they’re likely to vote on Nov. 6.
  • Young people who say they’re likely to vote prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress by a 34-point margin, down from 41 points last year.
  • Trump’s approval rating is at 26 percent among likely voters under the age of 30.

The Washington Post: Young Americans more likely to vote this year than in past midterms.

Perspectives and Analyses

The Memo: Trump’s base will be tested in midterms.
David Remnick: The midterm elections are a referendum on Trump.

More from the campaign trail … Early returns show voter enthusiasm is off the charts (The Associated Press) … The Florida Senate gubernatorial race has turned into an all-out brawl with racial conflicts and allegations of corruption (The Hill) … A first-time campaign manager for Trump tries to defy doubters (The New York Times) … Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) scrambles to win over Latino voters in Texas Senate race (The Hill) … Dem leadership hopefuls dole out millions in campaign cash (The Hill) … Voters across the country will decide on major environmental policy questions in Election Day ballot initiatives (The Hill).



WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: The president is expected to use a Tuesday speech about immigration to explain his determination to seal off the U.S. southern border from migrants, casting his executive action as a national security priority (The Washington Post).

Mexico offered to allow Central American migrants trekking via caravan toward the United States to remain in the southernmost states in Mexico as refugees. The migrants said they did not trust the Mexican government because they believe Hondurans who already applied for refugee status had been sent back. On Saturday, the migrants said they continue to seek safe passage through Mexico to reach the United States (The Associated Press).

The caravan continued north, despite Mexican job offers (Reuters).

“Do not come,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele Nielsen'Anonymous' whistleblower Miles Taylor changing locations, employing private security after death threats Biden picks first Latino to lead Homeland Security Judge says acting DHS secretary appointment unlawful, invalidates DACA suspension MORE said on Sunday as a public warning to migrants traveling in Mexico in caravans. People are “not getting in” without legally going through a process to enter the United States, she vowed (The Washington Examiner).

Conservative foreign policy experts argue that U.S. policy in Central America encourages migration from the region (The Hill).  

Waiting periods for U.S. citizenship now stretch to two years for applicants, compared with six months during previous administrations (The Associated Press).


Arms race: The president has sparked debate about a new Cold War arms race (The Hill).


Tax Cuts: Trump’s cheerleading for a new 10-percent tax cut for middle-class Americans will have to wait until 2019, said the chairman of the House tax-writing committee, Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyRaising the required minimum distribution age for America's seniors On The Money: Biden, Democratic leaders push for lame-duck coronavirus deal | Business groups shudder at Sanders as Labor secretary | Congress could pass retirement bill as soon as this year Top Democrat: Congress could pass retirement bill as soon as this year MORE (R-Texas) on Sunday. He said his analysis was merely “common sense,” given the upcoming elections, partisan disagreements about taxes, and the possibility that Democrats may hold a majority in at least one chamber next year (Reuters). 


Transgender policy: A dispute that could have a significant impact on the Trump administration’s reported plans to narrowly define gender could soon trace its way to the Supreme Court (The Hill).


Energy: Hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, is booming on federal lands under Trump administration policies. Seeking to work with the oil and gas industries to promote more domestic energy production, the administration is auctioning off millions of acres of drilling rights to developers, according to on-the-ground reporting (The New York Times).



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!


How to fight domestic terrorism, by Joseph Moreno, opinion contributor, The Hill. http://bit.ly/2D8biOF

The Jamal Khashoggi murder requires real response to Saudi Arabia policy, by former ambassador Robert Jordan, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2SojJKe


The House and Senate will convene after Election Day.

The president has no public schedule today.

Pence travels this afternoon to Oakland, Mich., to campaign for Republican Rep. Mike Bishop, who is being challenged by Democrat Elissa Slotkin, and for Lena Epstein (R), running against Democrat Haley Stevens in an open seat for the House. In the evening, the vice president will be in Grand Rapids, Mich., at 7 p.m. to rally for Senate candidate John James (R), who is vying to unseat Democratic Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowRepublican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race Lobbying world Senate Democrats reelect Schumer as leader by acclamation  MORE.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTime to bring federal employees home for every holiday Alabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Tuberville incorrectly says Gore was president-elect in 2000 MORE will speak to the Boston Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society at noon in Boston.

Justice Department Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinTrump turns his ire toward Cabinet members Ex-deputy attorney general says Justice Dept. 'will ignore' Trump's threats against political rivals The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House MORE speaks in Washington at 12:30 p.m. at a law enforcement roundtable about improving the identification and reporting of hate crimes.

The Commerce Department at 8:30 a.m. releases its report on personal income and outlays for September.


PhRMA members take new approach to DTC TV advertising


Soon, TV ads for our medicines will direct you to information including the list price of the medicine, out-of-pocket costs or other context about the potential cost of the medicine and available financial assistance. It’s our mission to find lifesaving treatments. It’s our responsibility to help patients access them. Learn more.



> In financial markets, world stocks had their worst week in five years last week. How bad was it and why? (Reuters). … Internet stocks plunged and old tech found new friends (Bloomberg). … The economy is flashing signs it’s downhill from here (The Wall Street Journal). … Democratic leaders seize on the falling stock market to raise public doubts about the durability of the Trump economy (The Hill).

Halloween spirit: Embassy Row trick-or-treat walking tour (best idea ever: International candy!); info HERE. … 2018 Halloween events in the D.C. area (TripSavvy). … Favorite 2018 Halloween events and activities (The Washington Post). … Eating, drinking and partying guide to Halloween 2018 (Washingtonian). … Halloween eats and treats in the D.C. area (Thelistareyouonit.com). … (Foodie Nycci Nellis offers a detailed calendar of Halloween food/drink enticements to guide D.C. goblins, see below):



 > A.I. in science: To predict the next big earthquake, scientists turn to artificial intelligence (The New York Times).

> A.I. in investing: Artificial intelligence will change investing (U.S. News & World Report). True machine learning can move into the realm of making future forecasts.”

> ART-i-ficial: A distorted painting “produced” with artificial intelligence sold last week for $432,500 at Christie’s in New York, a sum that far exceeded the winning bids for an Andy Warhol print and a Roy Lichtenstein bronze work, both of which sold at the same auction. A.I. technology in the art world has been a thing since around 2015 (The New York Times).




And finally … Here’s a social media trend from Ireland we’d like to see catch on in the United States on Nov. 6: “Dogs at polling stations” (The Irish Times).

Could there possibly be a more attention-getting way to encourage American voters to participate in democracy than asking them to bring their dogs to polling places, photograph adorable canines waiting while ballots are cast, and then share images as inspiration to others to follow suit #dogsatpollingstations?

Next week, stroll to the polls!