Every poll shows that the Sunshine State, which gave the country Bush v. Gore, is once again within the margin of error. The president carried the state four years ago by less than one percentage point.
Donald Trump, who has been relatively strong in Florida all year, needs the state’s 29 electoral votes in any realistic scenario that gets him to 270. The attention being paid to the state reflects its special, quadrennial importance: Clinton rallies today in Tampa, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. Trump has events scheduled tomorrow in Miami, Orlando, Pensacola and then, on Thursday morning, in Jacksonville.
Pro-Clinton forces undeniably have a better ground game than pro-Trump forces, which were slow to ramp up.
It is helpful to think of get-out-the-vote operations like a special teams unit in football. It will not win you the game if you’re down a few touchdowns, but it can make the difference at the end of a close matchup. Right now, Clinton really just needs a field goal to block Trump’s path to the presidency. But it’s not totally clear how many yards she has to kick the ball.
That is why the kind of canvassing work that Leticia Nieves is doing in this working-class suburb of Orlando could prove pivotal. Two months ago, the 37-year-old was unemployed and living in Mount Pocono, Pa., when she saw an ad offering $15 an hour to knock on doors in Florida. Now she is one of nearly 500 paid canvassers working in Florida for the Center for Community Change Action.
The progressive group has spent the past four months targeting a very specific universe of 384,000 Florida Latinos. They are low-propensity voters who are likely to support Democrats. That means they are registered but have either never participated or only cast a ballot in one of the previous four elections (typically the presidential in either 2012 or 2008).
I spent a shift shadowing Nieves, who was born in the Bronx and spent her teenage years in Puerto Rico, as she tried to convince about a hundred folks that they should vote in 2016. Speaking their native Spanish, she was an effective messenger — but it also seemed to be a surprisingly easy sell.
Edgardo Casiano, a cable technician who is registered to vote but has not done so since moving to Florida, initially said he was supporting Trump when Nieves knocked on his door. His wife walked up from behind and smacked him on the arm. She told the visitors at her door that he was just joking around, and that they both support Clinton. “If he doesn’t vote for Hillary, I will divorce him! Seriously,” said Marlin Colon, a Mary Kay beauty consultant, as their two kids watched TV in the living room.
The conversation that followed with the 29-year-olds showed the value of these face-to-face encounters — and the challenges of mobilizing hard-to-reach voters.
The husband said he would go online to vote early. Nieves had to explain that you cannot vote on the Internet but must do so in person. That surprised him. She told him exactly where he could go and talked about how easy it was. “Anytime from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” she said.
Then the wife, who loves the idea of Clinton being the first woman president, spoke up to say she filled out paperwork with someone at the mall so she could vote, but she received a letter from the board of elections saying that her registration did not go through because the Social Security number on her form was invalid. She wondered if it was too late to vote this year. The canvasser gave her the website and phone number for the local elections office and urged her to follow up as soon as possible.
And so it went for much of Nieves’s six hours at the door last Friday, from 2 p.m. until nearly 8 p.m. These low-propensity voters were incredibly enthusiastic about voting, but they often did not know basic information about how or where to do it. She explained patiently the requirement to bring a photo ID and why it is important to not just vote for the presidential candidates but also in the U.S. Senate race.
Many of the conversations were in Spanglish. Past a Honduran pupuseria and a Dollar Store, in a modest subdivision of single-family homes, one middle-aged woman hesitantly cracked open her door. Suspiciously eyeing her visitors, she asked: “Are you a Democrat?” When Nieves said yes, the door opened wide and the woman smiled broadly. She said she already voted for Clinton. Then she fretted that her 27-year-old daughter does not see the point. “We need to push her because she is lazy,” her mother said with a sigh. “So lazy!” She promised that she would keep nagging her daughter, who still lives at home, until she votes.
Nieves next persuaded a man named José, who works in the service industry, to vote early. He said he would go on Tuesday, his day off. A few houses later, a man who has not voted since the 2008 election said he will definitely vote for Clinton. “If I opened the garage, you’d see a bumper sticker for Hillary,” he said. “No Trump, no Trump, no Trump,” an apron-clad woman named Consuela, who was preparing a dinner of chicken and chickpeas for her grandchildren, said on the next block.
An Ecuadoran immigrant in her late 70s answered the door in a bathrobe. “You can leave whatever you want as long as it is not for that crazy loon,” she said in Spanish, referring to Trump, when she saw the pile of political brochures in Nieves’s hand. “I am for Hillary,” the canvasser replied. Then the woman’s husband, Humberto Nunes, came to the door and heard the pitch. The couple agreed to go vote for Clinton and Senate candidate Patrick Murphy first thing the next morning.
-- The influx of Latinos into the Orlando area has been dramatic. Kissimmee is in Osceola County. In 2004, George W. Bush beat John Kerry in this county by five points. In 2012, Obama crushed Mitt Romney by 25 points.
Many Puerto Ricans fleeing the debt crisis in the U.S. territory have settled here. They are already American citizens so can easily register to vote in Florida. The state’s Puerto Rican population, in excess of 1 million people, has doubled over 15 years. Experts say 1,000 new Puerto Rican families are resettling in the state every month.
Kissimmee is in Alan Grayson’s House district. Grayson vacated the seat to unsuccessfully seek the Democratic nomination for Senate. He threw his support behind his wife in the open primary to succeed him, but she lost to a Puerto Rican state senator. It is just the latest way that an emerging community is flexing its muscle.
-- Various efforts to register new voters have already paid off for the left. Only 45 percent of the 493,000 people who have registered to vote in Florida since the start of August are white. Democrats expanded their voter registration advantage by almost 70,000 over the course of the summer, so they go into this election with a 327,000 registration advantage statewide.
-- A surprising number of low-propensity voters have voted early so far. About 3.73 million ballots have already been cast in Florida, compared to a total of 8.5 million votes that were cast in 2012, including on Election Day. More than 400,000 of the registered Democrats who have voted early have either not voted in the past three elections or voted just once. Among Republicans, that number is 336,000. Of the nearly 200,000 registered Hispanic Democrats who have already voted, 50 percent fall into that category. Through the weekend, 70 percent of early voters have been white, compared to 14 percent Hispanic and 11 percent African American. (Hispanics account for about 16 percent of Florida’s registered voters.)
Mobilizing the voters who are with you is far more important than persuading new ones to support you at this point. “This is a state all about managing these micro margins,” said Steve Schale, a Tallahassee-based operative who directed Obama’s efforts in Florida and has been crunching these numbers every day. “She has a one-point to 1.5-point demographic advantage built in. The blocking and tackling at the doors … is where we are at in this election. It’s a huge funnel of people. You’re just trying to get as many people out of the bottom as possible.”
-- The Florida canvassers with Center for Community Change Action have faced off with humidity and Hurricane Matthew. When the Zika virus became a problem, the door knockers who work out of the three offices in Miami-Dade County got extra rations of mosquito repellant.
They have learned many lessons during four months on the ground. When they first started knocking on doors in June, the walkers carried fliers that included a big picture of Trump. It was an unflattering image, but they discovered that it made the Hispanics less likely to engage. Seeing the picture and not speaking English, they assumed the people coming to their door were representatives from the Trump campaign. Trump’s image now does not appear in any of their materials.
Nieves said she was chased by dogs in one development recently. In another, someone anonymously called the cops on her. Organizers are advised not to wear black, gold or red — to avoid being mistaken as somehow affiliated with area street gangs. She goes with the noncontroversial color gray.
-- CCCA has similar, but smaller, programs to drive low-propensity turnout in Nevada and Colorado. Using the most sophisticated social science research on social pressure, the group is experimenting with various efforts to make sure these voters follow through when they commit to vote. During phone banks, canvassers do what they call “catch-and-release calls.” If someone agrees to vote, they are asked to record a brief message about why it is important. Before Election Day, they receive an automated call and the message is replayed to them. Mailers are going out in the days before the election that detail their voting history in comparison to their neighbors. This makes people uncomfortable, but it is effective. “Most campaigns don’t want to invest the money to get the hardest voters,” said Chris Torres, the national campaign director for the group’s Immigrant Voter Project. “Everything we’re doing is additive to what the campaign is going to be doing.”
-- The Clinton campaign, which cannot coordinate with these groups, has carefully customized its own pitch for Latinos. Its field office in Kissimmee opened in August and is full of bilingual staffers. You cannot listen to Spanish-language radio stations here without hearing ads from Clinton about Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. The campaign took special care to get the accent of the narrator just right. (The speaker in Clinton’s ad in Miami has a Cuban accent.) Trump has run no ads in Spanish. The communications team has also worked to pitch stories to Puerto Rican newspapers, in hopes that the people who have moved to Orlando still read their traditional news sources from San Juan.
In places such as Arizona and Nevada, which have large numbers of Mexican Americans, Clinton’s ads emphasize Trump’s promise to build a border wall. If you listen carefully, that’s not part of the Clinton paid media in Florida. Puerto Ricans are already citizens, and the wall is not a concern for the Cuban community. But many are offended by other insensitive remarks Trump has made about the broader community.
-- One week out from Election Day, a red flag for Brooklyn: Nationally, early voting has increased sharply among Hispanics — a sign that anti-Trump backlash will indeed materialize at the polls. “But African Americans are turning out in smaller numbers than they did with Obama on the ticket,” Dave Weigel reports. “Early returns show a boost in turnout in heavily Latino counties and a decline in largely African American ones (in Florida). In a state such as Nevada, where Democrats are relying heavily on Latinos, early returns show they are voting in similar numbers as in 2012, boosting Democratic chances. But in battleground states such as Ohio where Democrats are counting on African Americans to put them over the top, they could be in trouble....”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- “Trump Used Legally Dubious Method to Avoid Paying Taxes," by five reporters in the New York Times: “Trump proudly acknowledges he did not pay a dime in federal income taxes for years on end. He insists he merely exploited tax loopholes legally available to any billionaire. … But newly obtained documents show that in the early 1990s, as he scrambled to stave off financial ruin, Mr. Trump avoided reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxable income by using a tax avoidance maneuver so legally dubious his own lawyers advised him that the [IRS] would most likely declare it improper if he were audited. Thanks to this one now-outlawed maneuver, Trump potentially escaped paying tens of millions of dollars in federal personal income taxes. Tax experts who reviewed the newly obtained documents … said Mr. Trump’s tax avoidance maneuver, conjured from ambiguous provisions of highly technical tax court rulings, clearly pushed the edge of the envelope of what tax laws permitted at the time. ‘Whatever loophole existed was not ‘exploited’ here, but stretched beyond any recognition,’ said Steven Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center."
GET SMART FAST:
- The Obamas greeted a long trail of trick-or-treaters at their final White House Halloween party, donning sweaters and jeans as they uncharacteristically urged children to gorge on candy and (temporarily!) abandon healthy eating habits. The top costume of the night went to a family dressed up as Zach Galifianakis’s “Two Ferns” show, and a little kid dressed as a silvery-haired Obama. (Greg Jaffe)
- A Philadelphia transit strike began this morning, after employers and union workers failed to come to a consensus over pension and health-care funding. This will impact hundreds of thousands of commuters, many of whom rely on public transit agency to get to work and school. (AP)
- Police in South Korea used an emergency detention law to jail a woman accused of acting as the country’s “shadow president” and exerting undue influence on President Park Geun-hye. Allegations of the woman’s undue influence have so incensed the country that one man drove an excavator more than 100 miles to ram it into the prosecutor’s office where she’s being held. (Anna Fifield)
- New research in Seattle and Boston found that drivers on ride-hailing apps such as Lyft and Uber racially discriminate against customers. They faced both a longer wait time and more than double the amount of canceled rides. (Bloomberg)
- Chicago suffered its most violent weekend of 2016, after 17 people were fatally shot between Friday and Monday. Police said victims included an eighth-grade honors student and twin 17-year-old boys. (Chicago Tribune)
- A festive Halloween hay ride in Mississippi turned tragic after the vehicle overturned on the side of the road, killing at least three and leaving several others injured. (Travis M. Andrews)
- Little Rock police are investigating a shooting that occurred in the parking lot of the Clinton Presidential Library. It was apparently a botched robbery attempt. One man was injured. (Travis M. Andrews)
- Florida authorities released audio recordings of Omar Mateen’s conversations with police for the first time, making public conversations the Pulse nightclub gunman had with dispatchers and negotiators during the standoff. (Miami Herald)
- A 13-year-old boy in Georgia had to have his leg amputated after a school behavioral specialist slammed him to the ground “multiple times” while at school. Attorneys for the boy said “at least” three other educators witnessed the incident but did not intervene. (Kristine Guerra)
- Iraqi forces are preparing to advance into Mosul, making a first break into the city as they attempt to wrest control from the Islamic State. Commanders say they can't predict how much resistance they will face, though leaders seemed buoyed after making faster-than-expected progress towards the city's eastern outskirts. (Loveday Morris and Mustafa Salim)
- A post-Brexit spike in hate crimes and bigotry towards immigrants has led to a dramatic increase in British Jews applying for German citizenship. The number of inquiries is stunning, especially because it involves many Britons whose ancestors desperately fled Nazi rule in Germany and Austria in the 1930s. They grew up with the memory of their parents' or grandparents' traumatic uprooting, the loss of loved ones in the Holocaust and ancestors who were stripped of German citizenship by the Third Reich. (Ishaan Tharoor)
- Lebanon’s parliament elected former general Michel Aoun as president, ending a two-year leadership vacuum caused by factional squabbling. Aoun, a Maronite Christian, is backed by Hezbollah and his election will allow Iran more influence in Lebanese affairs. (Hugh Naylor)
- The founder of Chobani yogurt has emerged as a major advocate for refugees, employing hundreds from Iraq, Afghanistan and Turkey at his factories and even starting a foundation to help migrants safely travel to Greece. But the advocacy has made him the target of a rising wave of racist social media attacks, including some who are calling for complete boycott of his company. (New York Times)
- People in the world’s smoggiest cities have begun purchasing “bottled air” from less-polluted areas across the globe. The packaged oxygen goes for nearly $100 a pop — but some desperate consumers said they are willing to try “anything.” (New York Times)
- A Miami man is making headlines after dressing up his 13-foot pet alligator in a neon purple top hat and sunglasses for Halloween. He says such getups are tradition for “Gwendolyn,” the pizza-eating, cookie-devouring gator he’s had for nearly 50 years. (WSVN; picture here.)
-- A brand new Washington Post-Schar School poll finds Clinton holding a six-point lead in VIRGINIA (48-42). Clinton’s team pulled ads in the state weeks ago. And George Mason Policy and Government dean Mark Rozell said Clinton’s lead does not look commanding when put into historical context, noting that polling in recent off-year Senate and gubernatorial contests has overestimated Democrats’ margin of victory. “Bottom line, Virginia is still in play,” he said.
-- An NBC-SurveyMonkey poll finds Clinton with a six-point national lead over Trump (47-41), holding steady since James Comey’s announcement.
-- A University of New Hampshire-WMUR poll shows Clinton up seven in NEW HAMPSHIRE (46-39). Kelly Ayotte and Maggie Hassan are neck-and-neck (44-43).
-- A Fox 2 Detroit-Mitchell poll has Clinton up six points in MICHIGAN, with Gary Johnson at 6 percent and Jill Stein at 2 percent. In a two-way race, Clinton’s lead climbs to eight points.
-- Monmouth University has Trump up 11 in INDIANA (50-39), but Evan Bayh and Todd Young are tied at 45 in the Senate race. Democrat John Gregg, notably, is leading Mike Pence's lieutenant governor by six points (48-42) in the governor's race.
-- Our in-house handicapper Stu Rothenberg writes today that the forecast is still "cloudy" to say who will control the Senate: "About half of the 11 races that have been watched at some point over the last year are still too-close-to-call. But Republicans remain on the defensive, and Democrats have many routes to gaining the four seats they need.... The reemergence of Hillary Clinton’s email issue puts the former secretary of state on the defensive and gives ammunition to GOP House and Senate candidate.... The Republicans’ problem is that, unless they win the Nevada Senate race, they’ll need to win at least four of the five tightest contests.... Comey’s letter ... gives GOP strategists reason for hope, and a race-by-race assessment ... suggests that anything from a Democratic gain of as few as three to as many as eight seats is possible. But given the much greater Republican vulnerability, Democrat gains of four to seven seats now looks most likely. And that would flip the Senate."
-- Democrats filed lawsuits in Arizona, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania, alleging that Trump, Republican state parties and militia groups led by vocal Trump supporter Roger Stone are conspiring to intimidate and block minorities from voting. Trump is violating federal civil rights “by using the loudest microphone in the nation to implore his supporters to engage in unlawful intimidation” at polling places, the lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania says. (David Weigel)
-- Ohio Gov. John Kasich followed through on his vow not to vote for Trump, writing in John McCain via absentee ballot instead. (The Plain Dealer)
-- Rick Perry has been strongly encouraging Rep. Michael McCaul to challenge Ted Cruz in the 2018 Republican primary. (Texas Tribune)
-- North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr apologized after he was caught on tape joking about how a rifle magazine should have put a “bullseye” on its cover photo of Clinton. “It’s got a picture of Hillary Clinton on the front of it,” he said. “I was a little bit shocked at that — didn’t have the bullseye on it!" (Mike DeBonis)
-- Former Indiana senator Evan Bayh’s campaign fundraiser sat in on meetings with donors in his official Senate office, according to a copy of his internal 2009 schedule obtained by CNN. The move raises potential conflict-of-interest concerns as to how he engaged with fundraisers, lobbyists and donors during his previous tour of duty in the Capitol.
-- The Republican's campaign also indefinitely blacklisted the Raleigh News & Observer, refusing to provide details of his schedule to the Raleigh paper until reporters can “demonstrate the ability to cover this race from a balanced point of view.” The move limits the newspaper from covering his public appearances. This is not something winning campaigns do....
-- Paul Ryan will stump in a cluster of battleground districts over the next two days. The speaker will appear in Indiana, Michigan and New York today, followed by Virginia, Iowa and Minnesota tomorrow.
A RUSSIAN CONNECTION?
-- The FBI has been conducting a “preliminary inquiry” into former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s business connections, NBC reports, stopping just shy of a full-blown criminal investigation. Manafort responded: “None of it is true. There's no investigation going on by the FBI that I'm aware of." He also denied any ties to Putin’s government, slamming accusations as “Democratic propaganda."
-- Slate’s Franklin Foer spoke to a group of computer scientists who believe that a server at the Trump Organization was covertly communicating with a Russian bank that is tied to Putin’s government. The purpose of the server is unclear. Foer reported that the communications appear to resemble “the pattern of human conversation” and took place during normal working hours in both New York and Moscow. Foer acknowledges in his piece that "what the scientists amassed wasn’t a smoking gun." But he does note the "suggestive" evidence. (HuffPost)
-- Mother Jones’s David Corn claims that a former senior intelligence officer who specialized in Russian counterintelligence efforts for a Western country told him that he provided memos to the FBI, based on his conversations with Russian sources, that claim Moscow has been “grooming” Trump for years. “The first memo … noted, ‘Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance.’ It maintained that Trump ‘and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals.’ It claimed that Russian intelligence had ‘compromised’ Trump during his visits to Moscow and could ‘blackmail him.’ It also reported that Russian intelligence had compiled a dossier on Clinton based on ‘bugged conversations she had on various visits to Russia and intercepted phone calls.’” The ex-spy claimed that the FBI asked him for more information in August, and he’s continued to share information with the bureau. ‘It’s quite clear there was or is a pretty substantial inquiry going on,’ he says.” Corn broke Mitt Romney’s 47 percent tape four years ago for the liberal magazine.
-- But, but, but: Law enforcement officials insist that no investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct links between Trump and the Russian government, the New York Times reports. "And even the hacking into Democratic emails, FBI and intelligence officials believe, was aimed at disrupting the presidential race rather than electing Trump."
-- The Financial Times endorses Clinton this morning on the grounds that Trump’s foreign policy and ties to Russia render him unfit to serve: “Mrs. Clinton carries enough baggage to fill a Boeing 747. She is not trusted by the majority of voters,” the paper's editorial board says. “But she is manifestly more competent than Mr Trump whose braggadocio, divisiveness and meanness are on daily display. Despite her faults, Mrs Clinton is eminently qualified..."
THE LATEST ON THE NEWLY DISCOVERED EMAILS:
-- The Justice Department tried (and failed) to quell outrage and frenetic speculation surrounding James Comey’s Friday disclosure that the FBI resumed its investigation of Clinton’s private email server. From Sari Horwitz, Tom Hamburger and Ellen Nakashima: “The department signaled that it now wants the politically charged investigation to follow standard procedures, including a strict limit on official comments about the probe and the provision of updates to Congress through routine channels. But after Comey’s highly unusual disclosure last week … it may prove impossible for Justice to lower the temperature and regain control over how the investigation is conducted and depicted to the public.”
-- Lawmakers who pressed Comey for details — including the number of emails involved, and when FBI officials will know how many emails are duplicates — received a lame, three-paragraph note in response. “We assure you that the Department will continue to work closely with the FBI and together, dedicate all necessary resources and take appropriate steps as expeditiously as possible,” the DOJ liaison to Congress wrote.
-- The Clinton campaign accused Comey of practicing a “double standard” after CNBC reported that he delayed the release of an FBI statement blaming the Russians for seeking to influence the presidential race on the grounds that it would be “too close to the election." From John Wagner, Jenna Johnson and Abby Phillip: “There is no case,” Clinton herself declared during a campaign stop in Ohio, predicting that the new inquiry will reach the same conclusion as the FBI investigation in July.
-- Criticism of Comey continued to mount, with both Democrats and Republicans amplifying demands that he and Attorney General Loretta Lynch provide a more detailed account of the investigation. Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said the amount of detail in Comey's Friday letter “did not go far enough” and was thus unfair to all parties involved: “Unfortunately, your letter failed to give Congress and the American people enough context to evaluate the significance or full meaning of this development,” he wrote. “Without additional context, your disclosure is not fair to Congress, the American people, or Secretary Clinton.” (Tom Hamburger)
-- Huma Abedin has told colleagues that she was “taken aback” when she learned that the FBI found her emails on a laptop belonging to her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner, and doesn't know how the messages got there. (Politico’s Josh Gerstein)
-- “Comey Role Recalls Hoover’s F.B.I., Fairly or Not,” by the New York Times's Scott Shane and Sharon LaFraniere: “Since [Obama] named [Comey] director of the F.B.I. in 2013, the 6-foot-8 former prosecutor has spoken often of dark chapters in the bureau’s history, notably J. Edgar Hoover’s order to wiretap the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and use the tapes to try to drive the civil rights leader to suicide. ‘The reason I do those things,’ Mr. Comey [once said], ‘is to ensure that we remember our mistakes and that we learn from them.’ His point: The nation’s leading law enforcement agency must preserve investigations from any taint of political motive or extralegal influence. So it may be especially painful to Mr. Comey that today … some critics and historians are comparing him to Hoover. The parallels to Hoover, who ran the F.B.I. and its predecessor from 1924 to 1972 as a fief that reflected his personal and political views, may be quite a stretch. Indeed, it may be his determination to be the anti-Hoover, transparent and above politics, that has gotten Mr. Comey in hot water.”
THE DAILY HILLARY
-- CNN cut ties with interim DNC chair Donna Brazile after another WikiLeaks revelation that she fed Clinton’s campaign primary debate questions. Hacked emails from March show Brazile sharing details on a question that would be asked in Flint. CNN announced her departure in a statement: “We are completely uncomfortable with what we have learned about her interactions with the Clinton campaign while she was a CNN contributor.” (Paul Farhi)
-- Tim Kaine plans to deliver remarks at a Phoenix campaign rally completely in Spanish this week. (John Wagner)
-- “Allies said Clinton remains ‘cautiously optimistic’ about her chances to win next week, but is concerned that the latest email flap would leave her further damaged upon entering the White House, and hurt chances of Democrats retaking the Senate majority,” Politico’s Annie Karni reports.
THE DAILY DONALD:
-- Trump has flip-flopped several times on whether or not he voted for George W. Bush, according to newly unearthed audio from CNN: In 2009, he agreed with radio host Don Imus when he told him he didn't vote for Bush: "I didn't either, by the way,” Trump reassured him. “You're good. I just thought that guy was a dimwit. You looked at it, and he just didn't look like he was all there. You look at his eyes, I mean he'd make a speech and you'd look at him and you'd say, 'Does he even know what he's reading?' This guy, he was a horrible president," said Trump. Four years earlier, however, he claimed the exact opposite: “I voted for Bush because I think he's got certain things that are excellent, including a tax policy that's excellent and going to prove to be excellent,” Trump told Bill O'Reilly in 2005. As recently as January of this year, Trump said he voted for Bush in both the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. (Andrew Kaczynski)
-- Trump is refusing to pay his own campaign pollster three quarters of a million dollars, with FEC filings showing the campaign is disputing nearly $767,000 owed to veteran pollster Tony Fabrizio. (Matea Gold)
-- The Trump Organization executive charged with overseeing development on the Old Post Office hotel in D.C. stayed through construction of the project — but quit one day after it opened. David Orowitz, who worked for the company for eight years, declined to offer details on his departure. (Jonathan O'Connell)
-- A defense attorney, in closing arguments, blasted Trump transition chairman Chris Christie and his inner circle as “COWARDS” for not testifying in the Bridgegate trial. From the AP’s David Porter: “In an emotional presentation … Michael Critchley cast client Bridget Kelly as a single mother faced with an administration more concerned with keeping Christie's nascent presidential hopes alive than with exposing the truth when details of the scandal surfaced three years ago. In a rebuttal summation, a prosecutor urged jurors to ignore the insinuations about Christie and others and focus on the evidence against the two defendants, which he called ‘devastating.’ Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, a former Port Authority executive, both face up to 20 years in prison on the most serious counts.”
-- The Trump campaign said the candidate will be disciplined and focused on talking about Obamacare today, specifically at a joint 11 a.m. appearance with Mike Pence in Valley Forge, Pa. Also scheduled to attend the event: Ben Carson, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), Rep. Mike Burgess (R-Tex.), Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.).
WHAT PUNDITS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE FBI MELODRAMA:
-- “If anything, it’s easier to gauge the impact of this development on the atmosphere in Washington AFTER the election,” writes Wall Street Journal bureau chief Gerald F. Seib. “It’s bound to make what already figured to be a nasty environment even worse. Let’s assume the Comey bombshell produces some dramatic change in the race and opens the way to a Trump victory. Democrats, not Mr. Trump, will be the ones charging the system was rigged and the election stolen.... On the other hand, if the development is insufficient to derail what appeared to be a Clinton march toward victory, Republicans … already have served notice that they will launch from there a series of investigations into the newly disclosed trove of Clinton emails and why they weren’t discovered previously. In that case, the acrimony of an angry campaign will carry into a new administration and a new Congress."
-- The Post’s Editorial Board urges voters to stay calm and, in a modified version of the Hippocratic Oath, do no further harm. “[This] consists in large part of recalling what we already know: that Ms. Clinton, foolishly and arrogantly, ignored State Department guidelines and used a personal email server while working as secretary of state. That a thorough FBI investigation found no harm to national security in the practice, virtually no mishandling of classified information.… At this point, there is no reason to believe that new emails, if any, would be inconsistent with the story that has emerged. Meanwhile, here’s something else we know: Mr. Trump is the least qualified and most dangerous major-party nominee for president in our lifetimes.... Nothing Mr. Comey said Friday changes that, either.”
-- Richard Nixon’s former White House lawyer, John Dean, blasts Trump for comparing the email scandal to Watergate: “Whatever mistakes Mrs. Clinton made, her actions bear no similarities whatsoever to Nixon’s criminalization of his presidency, and his efforts to corrupt much of the executive branch,” he writes in a New York Times op-ed. “To compare them to Watergate is more than historical ignorance.”
-- Hillary must commit to preserving White House records if elected, argues Timothy Naftali, former director of the Nixon Presidential Library: “Should she win, as it still seems likely she will, Mrs. Clinton ought to consider taking very public steps, very soon, to reassure Americans of her commitment to the protection of official records and transparency. No one wants to have to worry that some of her future White House electronic records will go missing,” he writes in a Times op-ed.
-- The New York Times’ Editorial Board calls the news sadly fitting: “In an election that has featured the obliteration of one long-accepted political or social norm after another, it is sadly fitting that one of the final and perhaps most consequential acts was to undermine the American people’s trust in the nation’s top law enforcement agencies.”
-- The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza offers a counterpoint: "What the anti-Comey arguments ignore is that if Lynch (and Obama) had maintained a more scrupulously non-partisan approach over the last two years, Comey perhaps would not have had to insert himself as publicly as he has in order to defend the FBI from allegations of political interference. Comey became the face of the investigation, to the public and to Congress, because his superiors — Obama and Lynch — could not. It’s far better for the public to have this information now than after the election. Perhaps it’s possible that this revelation will swing the election to Trump. But it seems highly unlikely. … Clinton is still favored to win, and, if she does, Comey will have done her a favor.”
-- “U.S. plans operation against Islamic State in Syria despite obstacles,” by Missy Ryan and Karen DeYoung: “The Obama administration is racing to settle questions that could scuttle a planned offensive against the Islamic State in the Syrian city of Raqqa that Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter has said will begin ‘within weeks.’ Senior administration officials have attributed the newly described urgency to Raqqa’s symbolic role as the ‘capital of the caliphate’ claimed by the militants and intelligence indicating that it is the center of Islamic State planning for terrorist attacks in Europe and the U.S. But the officials acknowledged a wealth of problems that could derail the offensive, including the need to gather and train additional Syrian forces. More ominously, they cite the explosive dynamics between two allies: Turkey and Syrian Kurdish fighters, who form the bulk of the existing offensive force. … ‘This is one of the situations in which we have contacts and influence over all the actors,’ said one official. ‘But we’re not in perfect control.’”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Rubio voted for Trump:
American Bridge jumped right on it:
The Sierra Club and Al Franken painted Trump as a Halloween villain:
The press pen at Trump's Grand Rapids rally was decorated:
Charles Koch dressed as Darth Vader:
Bernie Sanders pulled out the lightsaber:
House Republicans used Halloween to go after Obamacare:
House Democrats did the same with student loan debt:
These San Francisco waiters as private servers:
A kid at the White House as a "lame duck":
Jenna Bush as her grandmother:
CNN staffers as the countdown clock:
Ivanka Trump's kids:
Creepy images from Roger Wicker:
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Cemetery in Rocky Springs, a ghost town located in #ClaiborneCounty. In 1860, #RockySprings -- formerly a popular spot along @thenatcheztrace -- was home to over 2600 people. All that remains today is a single church and cemetery. #MississippiMonday #HappyHalloween 🎃 @visitms
And Jeff Merkeley:
Clinton had a taco truck pull up to her jet in Akron, Ohio:
Ben Sasse caught this embarassing tweet from Clinton's campaign account:
Check out this comparison of famous first pitches:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“White Nationalist’s Pro-Trump Robocall: Evan McMullin Is Gay,” from the Daily Beast: “Prominent white nationalist William Johnson, an ardent supporter of Trump’s campaign who was previously listed as a California delegate for the [RNC], has paid for a new robocall targeting #NeverTrump independent candidate Evan McMullin in Utah. ‘Hello, My name is William Johnson,’ the audio recording begins. ‘I am a farmer and a white nationalist. I make this call against Evan McMullin and in support of Donald Trump.’ ‘Evan has two mommies. His mother is a lesbian, married to another woman. Evan is okay with that. Indeed Evan supports the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. Evan is over 40 years old and is not married and doesn’t even have a girlfriend. I believe Evan is a closet homosexual.’” The calls will go out to at least 193,000 residential landlines in Utah.
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Professor who tweeted against PC culture is out at NYU,” from the New York Post: “An NYU professor crusading against political correctness and student coddling was booted from the classroom last week after his colleagues complained about his ‘incivility’ … ‘They are actually pushing me out the door for having a different perspective,’ the academic told The Post. Rectenwald launched an undercover Twitter account called Deplorable NYU Prof on Sept. 12 to argue against campus trends like ‘safe spaces,’ ‘trigger warnings’ and other aspects of academia’s growing PC culture. Two weeks ago he posted on his ‘anti-PC’ feed a photo of a flyer put out by NYU resident advisers telling students how to avoid wearing potentially offensive Halloween costumes. But the Twitter feed soon sparked a ‘witch hunt’ by the growing army of ‘social justice warriors,’ he said."
On the campaign trail: It's a big day for the Clinton team: Clinton holds rallies in Tampa, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Kaine is in Appleton and Madison, Wis.; Bill Clinton is in Miami-Dade County, Collier County and Pinellas County, Fla.; Bernie Sanders speaks in Plymouth and Hanover, N.H. and Portland, Maine. Trump and Pence campaign in Valley Forge, Pa. Later, Trump stops in Eau Claire, Wis. and Youngwood, Pa.
At the White House: Obama campaigns in Columbus, Ohio; Biden is in Charlotte, N.C.
On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House are out.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
From Robert Barnes: The erudite Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who speaks flawless French and is a recognized authority on architecture, showed yet another side during oral arguments at the Supreme Court on Monday. “The clothes on the hanger do nothing; the clothes on the woman do everything,” Breyer opined. “And that is, I think, what fashion is about.” “That’s so romantic!” interjected Justice Elena Kagan.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Happy November 1st! Just a few more days of comfortable warmth before another cold front comes surging through, the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. “Today (Tuesday): After a cool morning, we watch temperatures advance into the lower to middle 60s today under partly sunny skies. Low humidity and light breezes from the south at 5 to 10 mph make for a decent day overall. Cloud cover may increase a bit more by middle to late afternoon.”
-- Prosecutors dropped a trespassing charge against a Loudoun County School Board member who was arrested at a Trump rally after reportedly cutting in line and refusing to leave when her ticket was revoked. Authorities said the campaign did not have authority to bar her from the entire campus, just portions that were being reserved for the event. (Moriah Balingit)
-- Thomas Jefferson High School in Virginia led the nation with SIX perfect AP test scores, netting two each on tests in computer science, Spanish, U.S. government and politics. No other school in the country had six perfect scores, and just three recorded five. (Nick Anderson)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Obama cut an ad for Stephanie Murphy, who I wrote about in yesterday's big idea, that will go on TV today:
Clinton joined Jennifer Lopez on stage in Miami:
The White House released this video claiming the place is haunted:
The Obamas greeted trick-or-treaters:
Priorities USA has a new ad out aimed at women:
Trump thanked Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner at a Michigan rally:
The International Committee of the Red Cross put out a video promoting the Geneva Conventions:
Tracey Ullman weighed in on SNL's portrayals of political figures:
This ad on a Denmark bus reminded ex-pats to vote:
Stephen Colbert thinks Supreme Court justice should never die: