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

 

 

 

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Wednesday! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Co-creators are Jonathan Easley, Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver (CLICK HERE to subscribe!). On Twitter, find us at @joneasley, @asimendinger and @alweaver22.

 

***   Barron Trump is 13 today … Happy birthday!  ***

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpPolice say man dangling off Trump Tower Chicago demanding to speak with Trump Fauci says he was 'absolutely not' surprised Trump got coronavirus after Rose Garden event Biden: Trump 'continues to lie to us' about coronavirus 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.

Military.com: 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 Clinton Rally crowd chants 'lock him up' as Trump calls Biden family 'a criminal enterprise' Undecided voters in Arizona wary of Trump, crave stability Push to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw 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 BrownDems to focus on issues, not character, at Barrett hearings Mnuchin says he and Pelosi have agreed to restart coronavirus stimulus talks Harris faces pivotal moment with Supreme Court battle 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.

Cincinnati.com: Ohioans don’t like Trump as much as they used to.

LEADING THE DAY

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 McCainTrump digs in on conspiracy theory over bin Laden raid At 97, Bob Dole is still fighting for his country Leadership matters: President's words and actions show he is unfit to lead our nation 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 GrahamPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw RNC chairwoman: Republicans should realize distancing themselves from Trump 'is hurting themselves in the long run' Latest Mnuchin-Pelosi call produces 'encouraging news on testing' for stimulus package MORE of South Carolina, one of McCain’s closest friends in the Senate, and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Memo: Trump's second-term chances fade Romney slams Trump for refusing to denounce QAnon on national television Overnight Defense: Pentagon IG to audit use of COVID-19 funds on contractors | Dems optimistic on blocking Trump's Germany withdrawal | Obama slams Trump on foreign policy 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 ConwayBillboard warns Trump's Iowa rally will be 'superspreader event' White House Halloween to be 'modified' to meet CDC guidelines: report Minnesota health officials connect COVID-19 cases to Trump, Biden campaign events 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 PelosiPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Schumer labels McConnell's scheduled coronavirus stimulus vote as 'a stunt' Pelosi: White House made 'unacceptable changes' to testing language during negotiations on coronavirus stimulus 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 ChaoCentury of the Woman: Can Leading Women Have it All? Female lawmakers, officials call for more women at all levels of government to improve equity The Hill's 12:30 Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Country reacts to debate night of mudslinging 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.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

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 McConnellPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Schumer labels McConnell's scheduled coronavirus stimulus vote as 'a stunt' Pelosi gives White House 48-hour deadline for coronavirus stimulus deal 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 HarrisUndecided voters in Arizona wary of Trump, crave stability Foreign policy is on the ballot in 2020; so is American credibility Perez on Biden's poll leads: Democrats 'take nothing for granted' MORE (Calif.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Georgia senator mocks Harris's name before Trump rally: 'Kamala-mala-mala, I don't know' Warren, Porter to headline progressive fundraiser supporting seven swing state candidates MORE (Mass.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker 'outs' Cruz as vegan; Cruz jokingly decries 'scurrilous attack' Why Latinos should oppose Barrett confirmation Judiciary Committee sets vote on Barrett's nomination for next week MORE (N.J.), and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandHillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter's handling of New York Post article raises election night concerns | FCC to move forward with considering order targeting tech's liability shield | YouTube expands polices to tackle QAnon Democrats question Amazon over reported interference of workers' rights to organize Dueling town halls represent high stakes for Trump 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 BidenJoe BidenBiden: Trump 'continues to lie to us' about coronavirus Rally crowd chants 'lock him up' as Trump calls Biden family 'a criminal enterprise' Undecided voters in Arizona wary of Trump, crave stability MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Senate Democrats seek to alleviate public concern about some results not being available on election night Georgia senator mocks Harris's name before Trump rally: 'Kamala-mala-mala, I don't know' 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)

The Morning Report is created by journalists Jonathan Easley, Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: jeasley@thehill.com, asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!

OPINION

`They are us’: How people of faith are responding to the New Zealand massacre, by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Tayyab Yunus and Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, opinion contributors, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2TjeXgm

Biden or Beto: Where's the beef? by Brent Budowsky, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2HuAam6

WHERE AND WHEN

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 PompeoPompeo warns any arms sales to Iran will result in sanctions as embargo expires Trump turns his ire toward Cabinet members Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of missile strike that killed at least 13 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.

ELSEWHERE

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.

 

 

THE CLOSER

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.”