The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Dems put manufacturing sector in 2020 spotlight




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President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE will turn his attention to the manufacturing sector in the heart of the Rust Belt on Wednesday when he visits the nation’s last remaining tank manufacturer in Lima, Ohio.

The president will deliver remarks at the Lima Army Tank Plant, which has teetered on the edge of insolvency at several points over the course of its storied history. The plant got a shot in the arm earlier this year with a $700 million government contract to upgrade the Army’s flagship tank, the M1 Abrams.

Trump will use the plant as a backdrop to make the case for increased military spending. Why Lima is ground zero in the battle over defense spending.

The Associated Press: Trump keeps a sharp focus on Ohio as 2020 nears.

But there’s a political angle to the trip as well, as the president seeks to solidify his support from the blue-collar voters who propelled his stunning 2016 election victory in battleground states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Lima resides in Allen County in the western part of Ohio, where Trump won 66 percent of the vote against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDavis: The shocking fact that Mueller never would have accused Trump of a crime Trump says he would challenge impeachment in Supreme Court The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? MORE.

While there, the president will also have his eye on a manufacturing plant in Trumbull County in the eastern part of the state, where he garnered 51 percent support.

Trump hopes to save an idled General Motors (GM) manufacturing plant in Lordstown that has become engulfed by national politics.

The president has promised to save the more than 1,600 jobs there as part of his pledge to reinvigorate the U.S. auto industry. But GM and the local United Auto Workers (UAW) union are negotiating a deal that could shutter the plant, while providing opportunities for laid off workers to relocate to more prosperous facilities.

Trump has directly intervened, asking GM CEO Mary Barra to instead close an overseas plant, produce another line of vehicles at the plant, or sell the plant to another manufacturer that can build something there.



Trump has also taken aim at David Green, the local UAW president, blaming him for the impasse.



Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), a top contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, swung through Lordstown on Monday to meet with Green and defend him.

“We just wanted to come and say thank you … and make sure we help to carry this message you have started here and do everything we can to be helpful.” — O’Rourke

Many political analysts believe the 2020 presidential election will hinge on the economy and which party does a better job of appealing to working class voters.

Trump will likely stake his claim to that mantle on Wednesday, casting himself as a fighter for the dwindling manufacturing sector.

Democrats in Ohio say it’s all a political show.

“I wish it had come earlier. ...There were almost 5,000 people working at Lordstown when President Trump was elected. … Now the plant’s basically empty. … “I’ve been talking to the president about this. He finally woke up and acts like he wants to do something.”  — Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Treasury misses second Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Waters renews calls for impeachment | Dem wants Fed pick to apologize for calling Ohio cities 'armpits of America' | Stocks reach record high after long recovery Sherrod Brown asks Trump Fed pick why he referred to Cleveland, Cincinnati as 'armpits of America' Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (D-Ohio), who recently announced he won’t make a White House bid

The Hill: Trump faces political risks in fight over GM plant. Ohioans don’t like Trump as much as they used to.


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Technology confronts politics as conservatives say they want to amend a 1996 law that protects immunity on the internet. Some Republicans object to tech companies’ broad legal protections and want them to be held legally responsible for content on their platforms (The Hill).

On Tuesday, the president used Twitter to come to the defense of his social media director at the White House, Dan Scavino, who clashed with Facebook over what he said was the company’s interference with his ability to respond to commenters.

Some Republicans talk about censorship by tech companies, while others complain about political ideologies.

Trump, who accuses Twitter, Facebook and Google of leaning to the left, used the hashtag #StopTheBias to make his point, tweeting, “I will be looking into this!”

"I have many, many millions of followers on Twitter, and it's different than it used to be. Things are happening. Names are taken off. … It seems to be if they’re conservative, if they’re Republicans, if they’re in a certain group, there is discrimination and big discrimination,” the president said.

Trump on Tuesday also escalated his weekend social media attacks on former Arizona Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWhy did Mueller allow his investigation to continue for two years? If you don't think illegal immigrants are voting for president, think again 10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era MORE, who died last year. “I was never a fan of John McCain, and I never will be,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office when asked why he continues to denigrate a deceased lawmaker (The Hill).

The president’s animus toward the late senator mystifies McCain’s admirers, including GOP Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamKushner saying immigration plan will be 'neutral' on legal admissions: report Africa's women can change a continent: Will Ivanka give them her full support? If you don't think illegal immigrants are voting for president, think again MORE of South Carolina, one of McCain’s closest friends in the Senate, and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGOP plots comeback in Orange County Trump's Fed pick on critics: 'They're pulling a Kavanaugh against me' Dem super PAC campaign urges Republicans to back impeachment MORE, who was McCain’s rival for the GOP presidential primary in 2008, the party’s nominee in 2012 and now Utah’s junior senator. Romney’s rebuke of Trump and praise for McCain on Tuesday was direct and unequivocal (The Hill).

Trump also lashed out at George Conway, the lawyer husband of Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayWhite House may invoke executive privilege to block McGahn testimony Webb: When not to surrender George Conway: Case for Trump's impeachment better than Nixon's MORE, Trump’s former campaign manager and a current White House senior adviser. George Conway, a prominent Republican, is a frequent Trump critic and has questioned on Twitter the president’s mental health and assailed what he describes as Trump’s narcissistic personality. The president dubbed him “a total loser” (The Washington Post and The New York Times).

> Impeachment: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiTrevor Noah on lack of Pelosi nickname from Trump: 'There is a reverence for her' Trump says he would challenge impeachment in Supreme Court The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? MORE (D-Calif.) continues to defend her view that progressives who want impeachment charges brought against Trump would be handing him “a gift.” But she conceded that some members of her conference disagree with her. She said some House progressives have "wanted to impeach the president since the day he got elected."

During an interview with USA Today, Pelosi reiterated a message she’s shared with other news outlets: “You’re wasting your time unless the evidence is so conclusive that the Republicans will understand,” she said. “Otherwise it’s a gift to the president. We take our eye off the ball.”

> Immigration: The Supreme Court on Tuesday backed the Trump administration’s ability to detain immigrants with criminal records at any time and hold them indefinitely while they await deportation, even if they served time for their offense years ago (The Hill).

> Transportation Department: Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoHillicon Valley: Trump meets Twitter CEO after slamming company | Kushner calls Russia probes more 'harmful' than election interference | Dem wants FTC to hold Zuckerberg 'liable' for data missteps | Sri Lanka faces tough questions over social media ban FAA approves drone delivery for Google spinoff Wing Why an independent panel must investigate Boeing crashes MORE sought out her agency’s internal watchdog and asked for an audit of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) certification of the Boeing 737 Max 8, now under scrutiny after a pair of deadly commercial air crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia (The New York Times).

> FAA: Trump will name former Delta executive Steve Dickson to head the embattled aviation agency, the White House announced (Reuters).

> Health and Human Services: The Trump administration under the guidance of HHS Secretary Alex Azar is pulling out all the stops for red states to make conservative changes to Medicaid without congressional approval (The Hill).

> Veterans Affairs and health care: Technology and a flawed software tool created problems for delivery of private health care benefits to thousands of veterans, according to reporting by ProPublica.

> Treasury Department: The administration announced sanctions levied on Venezuela’s state-run gold mining, seen as another tool to pressure President Nicolás Maduro to leave office.


CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: Republicans are firing back against Democrats over a series of topics that are becoming burgeoning issues on the ever-expanding 2020 scene. They’ve hit back hard at Democrats opening the door to expanding the number of seats on the Supreme Court, calls to abolish the Electoral College and to lower the voting age to 16.

Trump declared that an expansion of the Supreme Court will “never happen” and will not be an idea he will ever “entertain.” Some Democrats are pushing for — or at least keeping an open mind about — the possibility. Since Trump’s inauguration, Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Dems charge ahead on immigration Biden and Bernie set for clash MORE (R-Ky.), have confirmed 36 circuit court judges, along with two Supreme Court justices.

> O’Rourke and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg have signaled support for the idea, while Democratic Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? K Street support to test Buttigieg MORE (Calif.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Minorities, older adults push Biden to top of 2020 poll The difference between good and bad tax reform MORE (Mass.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerK Street support to test Buttigieg We should welcome workers' 'powerful victory' in the Stop & Shop strike Harris adds another to her list of endorsements in South Carolina MORE (N.J.), and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? K Street support to test Buttigieg Kamala Harris backs putting third gender option on federal ID MORE (N.Y.) have all left the door open.

The Hill: Graham believes Democrats’ focus on doing away with the Electoral College should be perceived by voters as a push to make “rural America to go away,” politically speaking. The comment was in direct response to Warren telling voters in Jackson, Miss., during a CNN town hall Monday night that she supports the move.

> The president also weighed in on this late Wednesday in a pair of tweets and defended the current system, saying the difference in campaigning is akin to “training for the 100 yard dash vs. a marathon.”

In total, Trump called the three proposals “strange.” O’Rourke said Tuesday that the idea of changing the voting age has “some merit” and should be looked at further.



CNN: Harris is the first Democrat to show some upward trajectory in early polling during the 2020 cycle. According to a new national poll, the California Democrat has jumped to 12 percent, an 8-point uptick from the December poll. She trails only the front-running duo of Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenButtigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election This is the Joe Biden you rarely see Minorities, older adults push Biden to top of 2020 poll MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Meghan McCain: Bernie Sanders supporting prisoners being able to vote 'bats**t insane' MORE (I-Vt.), who have held the top spots in most polls of the nascent campaign.

Reid Wilson reports the Democratic primary could be all but over in about a year’s time (The Hill). A glut of Super Tuesday contests in 2020 is adding to the importance of the Democratic primary’s first four contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, underscoring the need for a strong early showing ahead of what will become a nationalized campaign.

According to Amie Parnes and Scott Wong, Biden may be getting in the 2020 waters shortly, but it likely won’t be all roses and sunshine for the former VP once he does (The Hill).

More on the 2020 front … Former Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe made an unannounced stop in South Carolina as he weighs a 2020 bid (CNN) … Howard Schultz is taking his roadshow to Kansas City, Mo., for a Fox News town hall on April 4 (The Hill)…  O’Rourke continued to take hits Tuesday during an event in State College, Pa., when a potential voter inquired about “actual policy from you, instead of just platitudes and nice stories." (ABC News) … Sanders and Warren are talking a lot about civil rights. Not many blacks are listening (Washington Post)

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The House next meets at 2 p.m. on Thursday.

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. for a pro forma session on Thursday.

The president travels to Ohio to tour a U.S. Army tank plant to highlight his defense spending proposals and to raise money for his 2020 campaign. It's Trump’s first visit to Ohio since the 2018 midterm elections. At 6 p.m. in Canton, Ohio, Trump participates in a roundtable with political supporters and at 6:30 p.m. speaks at a joint fundraising political reception in Canton before returning to Washington. 

Vice President Pence delivers remarks at 11:30 a.m. to the American Petroleum Institute board of directors meeting. At 2 p.m. in his White House office, Pence will participate in a roundtable discussion about pediatric cancer.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Iran sanctions aren't a realistic path to peace Schumer, author discussed possible Kansas Senate run: report MORE is traveling in Kuwait City to hold meetings and participate in the opening session of the U.S.-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue. He holds a press conference there and later meets in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the evening and delivers joint press statements. Following their statements,  Pompeo participates in an Eastern Mediterranean 3+1 meeting with Netanyahu, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades in Jerusalem.

The Federal Reserve concludes a two-day policy meeting with fresh economic data at 2 p.m. and a press conference by Chairman Jerome Powell. Reuters reports what’s expected this afternoon from the central bank.


Disaster in Africa: Southern Africa was slammed last week by a cyclone and officials and aid organizations believe 1.5 million people in three nations may have been affected. Foreign aid is beginning to arrive, as photographs emerging from the area underscore the devastation (The Associated Press). The low-lying port city of Beira, Mozambique, on the Indian Ocean took the brunt of 110 mph winds and a catastrophic storm surge and is described as “destroyed.” Although the cyclone struck on Thursday, news of the devastation took days to emerge, in part because of the country's poor infrastructure. Cyclone Idai would be the deadliest tropical cyclone on record in southern Africa (CNN), and days later, thousands of people remain marooned (The New York Times).

Tech: Google has entered the multi-billion-dollar gaming world with the release of Stadia, which turns Chrome into your gaming console (Mashable) … The initial public offering for the popular ride-hailing service Lyft is oversubscribed, making it likely the company will raise more than $23 billion when it goes public (Reuters).

Cannabis: David Klein, who invented Jelly Belly beans in 1976 and sold the company in 1980, launched a cannabidiol-infused (CBD) jelly bean brand called Spectrum Confections. Marketers promote these treats as ideal for adults-only Easter baskets next month (Business Insider) … Meanwhile, a syndicated national cannabis study conducted by joint venture MRI-Simmons and released on Tuesday describes an evolving consumer trend in which almost 4 million Americans say they use CBD and hold “health-focused” views of cannabis. In total, 36 million Americans 18 and older say they’re cannabis consumers, according to the study, which is why former lawmakers and entrepreneurs are racing into that growth industry.




And finally … Opening Day for Major League Baseball may hit Washington and elsewhere in the states March 28, but first pitch of the season took place earlier today nearly 7,000 miles away in Tokyo, where the Oakland Athletics met the Seattle Mariners in Game 1 of a two-game set to kick off the season.

The star attraction of the series is a likely send-off for Ichiro Suzuki, the closest thing modern baseball has to a worldwide icon. The 45-year-old is expected to be removed from the Mariners’ 40-man roster shortly after they return stateside, but his impact on the game is incalculable. Since joining the Mariners in 2001 after nine years in Japanese baseball, Ichiro has racked up more than 3,000 hits, and he had a 10-year stretch (from 2001 to 2010) unlike many in modern baseball, headlined by a .331 average and 224 hits during that time.

No one feels the impact more than Japanese stars today. As Yu Darvish, a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, told ESPN, “He is like a god.”