The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Trump, Obama battle for the Senate




Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report and it’s November! 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 former Maryland Gov. and former Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley discussing the upcoming elections; former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement John Sandweg; and Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, describing health care’s role in midterm contests.


President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE
and former President Obama will go mano a mano on the campaign trail in the final days before Nov. 6, as they wrestle to tip the balance in key Senate races that are headed for the wire.

Conventional wisdom says that Republicans will retain their majority in the Senate; Democrats would need to flip two GOP-held seats and run the table in the 10 states that Trump carried in 2016 where Democrats are up for reelection. That’s not impossible but it’s unlikely.

On the Republican side, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSanders is a risk, not a winner Buttigieg sounds alarm after Sanders wins Nevada Where do we go from here? Conservation can show the way MORE (R-Ky.) knows that margins matter, and in this hyperpartisan era he’d very much like to expand the GOP’s  51-49 majority.

There are a significant number of Senate races where the outcome is in serious suspense, particularly for the incumbents.

Fox News polls: Senate races tighten.

CNN polls: Tight Senate contests in Arizona, Nevada in final week.

Will Democratic Sens. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocratic senator: 'The ultimate of ironies' for Trump to hit Romney for invoking his faith Committee on Veterans Affairs sends important message during tense Senate time Democrats cry foul over Schiff backlash MORE (Mont.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDemocrats criticize Medal of Freedom for Limbaugh as 'slap in the face' Kansas City, Kan., responds to Trump tweet: We root for the Chiefs, too Trump mocked for Super Bowl tweet confusing Missouri for Kansas MORE (Mo.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade Lobbying world Bottom Line MORE (Fla.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampSusan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same MORE (N.D.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Lawmakers push back at Trump's Pentagon funding grab for wall Overnight Health Care: Appeals court strikes down Medicaid work requirements | Pelosi's staff huddles with aides on surprise billing | Senate Dems pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit MORE (W. Va.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyGinsburg health scare raises prospect of election year Supreme Court battle Watchdog accuses pro-Kavanaugh group of sending illegal robotexts in 2018 Lobbying world MORE (Ind.) return to Congress? Will Republican Nevada Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE? And will a Democrat or a Republican replace outgoing Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcSally ties Democratic rival Kelly to Sanders in new ad McSally launches 2020 campaign Sinema will vote to convict Trump MORE (R-Ariz.)?

All of those races are too close to call. Some are so close that it could be days or weeks after Election Day before we know the final party breakdown in the Senate.

As such, Trump and Obama will mow through the final stretch to try and change the dynamics for their favored candidates.

Trump is doing what he loves best – putting miles on Air Force One and bouncing from rally to rally, where cheering, MAGA-cap-wearing crowds of 10,000-plus are not unusual.

Last night, Trump rallied voters in Florida, the home to two of the closest and nastiest races of the cycle. The Senate race between Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott (R) is a cliffhanger, while the governor’s race between Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) and former Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisGov. DeSantis more popular in Florida than Trump The Hill's Morning Report — Sanders, Dems zero in on Super Tuesday Florida lawmakers pass bill requiring parental consent for abortions, governor expected to sign MORE (R) has evolved into a racially charged drama.

Obama will follow Trump to the Sunshine State on Friday with designs on helping Democrats close the deal in both of those races.

Tonight, the president is off to Missouri to stump for Republican Josh Hawley, who had a 4 point lead over McCaskill in the most recent survey of the race. Trump won the Show Me State by nearly 20 points in 2016.

From there, the president will romp through nine more rallies in eight states on a five-day tour that will take him through West Virginia, Montana, back to Florida, to Tennessee and Georgia, back to Missouri, to wrap up in Indiana and Ohio.

   “It's going to be a very close race. I think in the Senate we're looking very good. I feel very good about the Senate. And frankly I think we feel pretty good about the House. But it's a lot of people. So many races it's hard for me to get to every one of them. With the Senate, we've gotten to just about everyone I needed to get to. And I think we're going to do very well.” - Trump on Wednesday in an interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl.

Poll: More Republicans identify themselves as Trump supporters than GOP supporters.

Obama’s team has also added a late stop in Indiana, where Donnelly is fighting for his political life against Republican Mike Braun. Democrats have an uphill climb here, as Trump carried the state by nearly 20 points in 2016. But there’s hope, if Obama can tap into that old 2008 magic. That year, he became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the Hoosier State in more than 40 years.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenButtigieg campaign claims 'irregularities' in Nevada caucuses Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE today is off to see if he can help Heitkamp mount a comeback in North Dakota against Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerTrump Fed nominee stirs controversy ahead of hearing Senators, bruised by impeachment, hunt for deals Plan to probe Bidens sparks GOP divisions MORE (R). Cramer was widely viewed as a low-quality candidate when he won the nomination but has opened up a double-digit lead, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

A barn burner until the very end…

Hugh Hewitt: Republicans and Democrats have very different closing arguments. Anyone who says they know which one will prevail is lying or delusional.”


CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: This is probably not how Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan says he disagrees with Romney's impeachment vote Trump doubles down on Neil Cavuto attacks: 'Will he get the same treatment as' Shep Smith? Trump lashes out at Fox News coverage: 'I won every one of my debates' MORE (R-Wis.) envisioned the final weeks of his Speakership playing out – feuding with the Republican president and under pressure to punish a member of his caucus for what many view as racist remarks or views.

Trump on Wednesday took to Twitter to express his displeasure with Ryan, who challenged the president’s assertion that he can abolish birthright citizenship through an executive order.



The Hill: Trump’s attacks on Ryan seen as advance scapegoating.

The president’s threat of executive order and his claim that the 14th Amendment does not ascribe citizenship to everyone born on U.S. soil caught Republicans completely off guard and even outside of Ryan, Trump found few defenders among the GOP.

The Washington Post: Trump’s immigration moves roil campaigns for both parties.

Still, Trump is pressing the matter, even as many Republicans would prefer to be talking about tax cuts, the economy or border security.

    “The Constitution does not require [birthright citizenship] … because illegal immigrants are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.” — Trump last night at a rally in Florida

Lawyer George Conway, who is married to White House adviser Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayBrazile 'extremely dismayed' by Bloomberg record Conway: Reported sexist Bloomberg remarks 'far worse' than what Trump said on 'Access Hollywood' tape Candidates make electability arguments, talk Bloomberg as focus turns to more diverse states MORE, fired back over Twitter.



Eric Foner: Trump’s unconstitutional dreams.

Peter H. Schuck and Rogers M. Smith: Congress can end birthright citizenship. It doesn’t require a constitutional amendment.

While the president’s been talking about migrants, the United States welcomed new young citizens during a Halloween-themed ceremony in Fairfax, Va., on Wednesday.



Separately, Ryan and other GOP leaders are under pressure to speak out or take action against the repeatedly extremist rhetoric of Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingMother of child in viral meme sends Steve King cease-and-desist for using image in fundraising Nebraska Democratic Party Chair: Rural vote should be 'bedrock' of party With surge in anti-Semitism, political leaders need to be aggressive and reflective in response MORE (R-Iowa).

King has long attracted attention for views and remarks that many view as racist. But the weekend massacre at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh and King’s suddenly competitive race has thrust him into the spotlight.

The Hill: Pressure grows on House GOP to denounce Rep. Steve King.

Ryan is retiring at the end of this term and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump's Intel moves spark Democratic fury Buttigieg sounds alarm after Sanders wins Nevada Russian interference reports rock Capitol Hill MORE (D-Calif.) aspires to replace him as Speaker.

Pelosi went on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Tuesday night and declared that Democrats would win the House.

Melanie Zanona and Mike Lillis report that Democrats across the country feel increasingly confident that they’ll have a majority in the House..

The Hill: Dems move from optimism to confidence they’ll win the House.

More from the campaign trail … Obama World is split over who to back in 2020 (The Hill) … The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has raised more than $100 million online this cycle (Politico) … Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisClyburn: Biden 'suffered' from not doing 'enough' in early debates Sanders is a risk, not a winner House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime MORE (D-Calif.) is becoming a fundraising powerhouse (McClatchy) … Democrats are pinning their hopes on health care as a closing message (The Hill) … Young and new voters surge in early voting (The Hill) … National Dems pour late money into Minnesota race for Democratic Sen. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithDemocratic senators ask FDA to ban device used to shock disabled students Trump pick for Fed seat takes bipartisan fire Biden leads 2020 pack in congressional endorsements MORE (Roll Call) .. All hands on deck among Democrats to save Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezMenendez calls for 'Marie Yovanovitch bill' to protect foreign service employees Senators condemn UN 'blacklisting' of US companies in Israeli settlements Media's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle MORE (D-N.J.) (The New York Times).


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Interior Department: Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeInternational hunting council disbands amid litigation Europe deepens energy dependence on Russia Overnight Energy: House Science Committee hits EPA with subpoenas | California sues EPA over Trump revoking emissions waiver | Interior disbands board that floated privatization at national parks MORE is under investigation at the Department of Justice for allegations of misconduct that may involve government ethics and a personal business deal that presented a conflict of interest. The details of the acting inspector general’s referral more than two weeks ago to Justice investigators have not been made public.

The Hill’s Miranda Green and Tim Cama reported on Wednesday that behind the scenes, questions are being raised about the timing of the administration’s announcement that Interior’s acting inspector general would be replaced – just two days after the Interior Department’s watchdog referred Zinke’s alleged misconduct to law enforcers (The Hill).


Border militarization: Trump says active-duty troop deployments to the southern border could rise to 15,000, an ever-shifting narrative days before the elections, and one that has surprised the Pentagon (The Associated Press).


U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil: The president’s unilateral sanctions on oil purchases from Iran take effect on Nov. 5. The question remains how the administration plans to reckon with violators (Bloomberg).


ObamaCare and birth control: The administration is revising rules that allow employers to deny women insurance coverage for contraceptives based on religious or moral objections, hoping to retain the goals of the policy while overcoming judges’ objections encountered in court. The details of the revisions are unclear (The New York Times).


Banking: The Federal Reserve will ease regulations for U.S. lenders with less than $700 billion in assets, a way to loosen restrictions on large commercial lenders that do not have volatile Wall Street businesses, and to lift requirements on much smaller banks. The changes described on Wednesday stem from a law passed in May aimed at lifting some red tape and federal requirements imposed following the global financial crisis a decade ago (Reuters).


Federal debt threat: White House national security adviser John Bolton described the nation’s rising national debt as a “threat to society” that requires significant cuts to the government’s discretionary spending. Bolton, a proponent of the GOP tax cuts of 2017 and increased spending for the military in this fiscal year, said on Wednesday that he expects defense spending to “flatten out” going forward. Speaking during a Washington event, Trump’s adviser said he does not anticipate major cuts to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security (Bloomberg).

> Proponents last year predicted the Republican tax reductions would help reduce the federal debt. Instead, spending rose, revenues shriveled and projected U.S. borrowing soared to $1.3 trillion (and at higher interest rates) (The Washington Post). Rising deficits and debt have not been significant issues on the campaign trail this fall, but promise to animate partisan debates following the midterm elections.


Election security: Intelligence agencies are monitoring for possible foreign interference in U.S. elections next week, including from Russia, China or Iran, and the administration is prepared to sanction any company or individual involved in such activity (Reuters). Trump will be briefed on election security safeguards this afternoon at the White House.

The New York Times: The crisis of election security.


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!


The U.S. Supreme Court set a clear precedent on birthright citizenship, by Sandeep Gopalan, opinion contributor, The Hill.

President Trump emboldens the darkest side of American society, by Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, opinion contributor, The Hill.

Looking up to Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaBudowsky: Bloomberg-Obama or Klobuchar-Kennedy? The Hill's Campaign Report: New challenges for 2020 Dems in Nevada, South Carolina Obamas share messages wishing each other happy Valentine's Day MORE, by Jessica Curry, opinion contributor, The New York Times.




The House and Senate will convene after Election Day.

The president will participate in a briefing about election integrity at 1:30 p.m. Later, he flies to Columbia, Mo., for a political rally at 6:30 p.m., and returns to Washington.

Vice President Pence will campaign for GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, who is competing against Democrat Stacey Abrams, participating in three rallies in Georgia.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOn the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Trump looms as flashpoint in Alabama Senate battle Trump tweets test Attorney General Barr MORE and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinAttorney General Barr is in a mess — and has no one to blame but himself Graham requests interviews with DOJ, FBI officials as part of probe into Russia investigation DOJ won't charge former FBI Deputy Director McCabe MORE will speak during the U.S. Marshal Service's 37th Director's Honorary Awards Ceremony at 10:30 a.m. at the Justice Department. Sessions and other Justice officials hold a news conference at 1:30 p.m. to announce a China-related enforcement action and administration action responding to economic espionage and China.

White House national economic adviser Larry Kudlow discusses “opportunities and challenges for small businesses” along with chief executive Steve Case of Revolution at 9:30 a.m., for a newsmaker event hosted by The Washington Post.

U.S. economic reports: Jobless claims out at 8:30 a.m.; productivity for the third quarter, 8:30 a.m.; construction spending for September, 10 a.m. (expected to hold steady); domestic auto sales for October (expected by analysts to decline slightly from September).


PhRMA members take new approach to DTC TV advertising


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> “Get wet, you die”: Henry Worsley died trying to walk across Antarctica alone. Now his friend attempts the journey through minus 60-degree temperatures and gale force winds (The New Yorker).

> #MeToo: Americans are more divided by party than gender on the #MeToo movement. And while a strong majority say it has created a climate where offenders are more likely to be held accountable, 40 percent say the movement has gone too far (NPR).

> Land: A push to cut back federally protected lands poses a big question: Whose land is it? Inside the new battle for the American West (National Geographic).

> Sweat science: Running is more efficient when runners forget about form. Yep, just do it, according to a new study (Outside).


And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by Daylight Savings Time, which happens on Sunday, we’re eager for some smart guesses about that annoying ritual.

Email your responses to or, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit five correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday. Tick, tick, tick!

For everything there is a reason and a season. When it comes to “springing forward” in March and “falling back” in November, the inspiration in history began with … ?

  1. Swiss watchmakers. At the turn of the century, the idea caught on following a marketing ploy launched by some of the best timepiece manufacturers on the planet.
  2. Farmers. Shifting clocks seasonally began as a technique to improve animal husbandry in a previously agrarian-focused world.  
  3. The Germans. During World War I, they shifted clocks to save electricity, and the idea was widely emulated on the theory that it was economical.
  4. School bus drivers in the United Kingdom. They proposed the change as a safety consideration for children. The time-bending tradition spread.

In what year was daylight savings time introduced in the United States? (Note: This is a tricky question. There’s a clue if you know the answer to Question #1. Think “introduced” rather than “made permanent.”)

  1. 1902
  2. 1918
  3. 1952
  4. 1968

Two states do not observe daylight savings time (U.S. renegades!). Can you name them?

  1. Texas and New Hampshire
  2. California and Delaware
  3. Arkansas and Washington
  4. Hawaii and Arizona

Daylight savings time has many, many critics. Which governmental body will vote by next spring on abolishing the practice?

  1. The Duma
  2. Canadian Parliament
  3. U.S. Congress
  4. European Parliament

Daylight savings time can be hazardous to human health, according to researchers. Which of these is true, based on studies?

  1. Springing forward in March contributes to more car accidents.
  2. Moving clocks ahead an hour each spring has been correlated with higher suicide rates.
  3. Shifting time forward in the spring is linked to increased risk of heart attacks.
  4. All of the above.