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 TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it 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 McConnellPatagonia says to shut stores for a few hours during Global Climate Strike Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes On The Money: House votes to avert shutdown, fund government through November | Judge blocks California law requiring Trump tax returns | Senate panel approves three spending bills 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 senators quietly hope Biden wins over rivals GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson to resign at end of year Native American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment MORE (Mont.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Ocasio-Cortez blasts NYT editor for suggesting Tlaib, Omar aren't representative of Midwest Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (Mo.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonMedia and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity Al Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Democrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 MORE (Fla.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states Pence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa MORE (N.D.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSchumer: I don't know any 'Democrat who agrees' with O'Rourke on gun seizures O'Rourke: Many Democrats 'complicit' in gun problem The Hill's Morning Report - Pompeo condemns Iran for 'act of war' while Trump moves with caution MORE (W. Va.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyLobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries MORE (Ind.) return to Congress? Will Republican Nevada Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE? And will a Democrat or a Republican replace outgoing Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  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 DeSantisTrump parts ways with key Florida adviser: report Death and destruction: A timeline of Hurricane Dorian How to take politics beyond charges of racism 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 BidenGiuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it Trump whistleblower complaint involves Ukraine: report MORE today is off to see if he can help Heitkamp mount a comeback in North Dakota against Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerPrimary challenges show potential cracks in Trump's GOP Castro, Steyer join pledge opposing the Keystone XL pipeline EPA proposes rolling back states' authority over pipeline projects 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 RyanDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas 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 ConwayGeorge Conway: If Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate Biden, he 'should be impeached and removed from office' Obama, Bush among those paying tribute to Cokie Roberts: 'A trailblazing figure' Journalists, political heavyweights pay respects to Cokie Roberts: 'A pioneer for so many' 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 KingOcasio-Cortez rips Steve King after he shares video drinking from toilet-fountain hybrid at border Steve King says he drank from toilet at detention center Steve King jokes about China forcing Muslims to eat pork 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 PelosiPatagonia says to shut stores for a few hours during Global Climate Strike Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Progressives push for changes to Pelosi drug pricing plan 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 HarrisTwo former Congressional Black Caucus chairmen back Biden Strippers, 'Hustlers' and the Democratic debates 2020 Dems honor Emily Clyburn 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 SmithThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Former GOP Rep. Jason Lewis says he'll challenge Tina Smith in Minnesota Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again MORE (Roll Call) .. All hands on deck among Democrats to save Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezAs NFIP reauthorization deadline looms, Congress must end lethal subsidies Senate Democrats warn Trump: Don't invite Putin to G-7 Pelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid MORE (D-N.J.) (The New York Times).


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Interior Department: Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeInterior gains new watchdog The Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks BLM issues final plan for reduced Utah monument 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.


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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 ObamaTrump: House Judiciary should investigate Obama Netflix deal instead of his business 2020 is not a family affair, for a change Former speechwriter says Michelle Obama came up with 'when they go low we go high' line 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 SessionsDemocrats press Nadler to hold Lewandowski in contempt Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Democrats bicker over strategy on impeachment MORE and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinLewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Nadler's House committee holds a faux hearing in search of a false crime House Democrats seeking Sessions's testimony in impeachment probe 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


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.



> “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.