With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: 

HAMMOND, Ind. — Nobody inside the Beltway refers to Joe Biden as “Middle-Class Joe,” despite the former vice president’s insistence in his stump speech that everyone does. “It’s not meant as a compliment,” Biden told 2,300 people at the civic center here Friday night, where he stumped for endangered Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly and continued to test the 2020 waters. “It means I’m not sophisticated.”

But Biden has cultivated a brand that makes such a sobriquet believable to many of the white working-class voters in the industrial Midwest who backed President Trump in 2016 after casting ballots twice for him and Barack Obama. He argued in his speech that the government has broken the social contract that allowed for the emergence of a strong middle class after World War II. “Here’s the truth: The public has to know who we are as Democrats. … We’ve kind of lost sight of that,” said Biden. “We have one overarching responsibility: to restore the middle class and to restore the bargain.”

The Obama-Biden ticket narrowly carried Indiana in 2008 by appealing to blue-collar workers who were dislocated by the Great Recession. The Hoosier State has the highest percentage of workers in manufacturing jobs and produces more steel than any other. Mitt Romney won Indiana by 10 points in 2012 as the state reverted to its red roots. Then, Trump crushed Hillary Clinton by 19 points in 2016. As a new generation of rising stars focuses on the Sun Belt and growing minority communities, Biden believes Democrats should focus on winning back as many of these voters as possible in the Rust Belt.

“I got goose bumps, and I’m 60-years-old. It’s hard to get goose bumps when you’re 60-years-old,” said Jim Holechko, a steelworker in Gary, Ind. “If we have a lot more national Democrats sounding this message, we could win again. I’ve been through four recessions and a depression — because 2008 was a depression, really — and I hope the message Joe had is repeated over and over and over again. I also hope we can rebuild the Democratic Party the way I grew I up with it, which was when Democratic politicians stood up for the dignity of the working man, for respect on the job and for the dignity of work. If Joe runs on that message, I could support him.”

Holechko, who is active with the local chapter of the United Steelworkers union, said Biden’s message shows why Democrats should stop nominating moderates. He preferred Bernie Sanders to Clinton in the 2016 Indiana Democratic primary, which the Vermont senator won 52 percent to 48 percent. “Stop the milquetoast,” said Holechko, as his 19-year-old son nodded enthusiastically. “In Indiana, it hasn’t worked. We keep getting our butts kicked by using the milquetoast approach.”

Bob Roach, 62, a political independent and an electrical engineer at another nearby steel mill, voted twice for George W. Bush and then twice for Obama. In 2016, he couldn’t bring himself to pull the lever for Clinton or Trump. So he left the top of his ballot blank. But the GOP tax cuts that disproportionately help the richest 1 percent upset him. Trump’s policy of separating kids from their parents at the Southern border disgusted him. And America’s declining standing in the world has embarrassed him.

“I thought Trump was going to be pretty benign, but it turns out he’s not,” said Roach. “I thought Hillary Clinton was probably the worst candidate Democrats could have possibly put up. I think Joe Biden could have easily beaten Trump. I hope he runs.”

His wife Laurel Roach, a proud partisan Democrat, adores Biden because “he’s so down to earth.” She believes Biden must have faced personal financial hardship when his son Beau died of brain cancer because he’s not independently wealthy, and she spoke fondly of his commute via Amtrak to and from Delaware as a senator to save money. “He knows what all the rest of us are going through,” said Laurel, 57, a homemaker from Highland, Ind. “The current occupant of the White House doesn’t have an empathetic bone in his body.”

That was a routine refrain during two dozen interviews. Biden emphasized his hardscrabble roots, and the crowd loved it. “We all come from the same neighborhood,” the former vice president said. “My dad worked 15 hours a day. … I’m from Scranton, Pa., but if you listen to Barack, you think I climbed out of a coal mine with a lunch bucket. … I was listed as the poorest man in the United States Senate when I was there.”

--Privately, those close to Trump say the Democrat who most worries the president and his team is Biden, who they fear could cut into his working-class white support in such states as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin,” Ashley Parker and Bob Costa reported last week.

-- A CNN poll published Sunday showed Biden at the top of the 2020 Democratic field. Asked to pick from among 16 possible presidential candidates, 33 percent chose him. The next closest was Sanders, with 13 percent, followed by Kamala Harris with nine percent and Elizabeth Warren with eight percent.

You shouldn’t put too much stock in polls this early because they reflect name identification to a large degree. The national sentiment also matters less than how these contenders play in the early states. And the field won’t really shake out until after the midterms.

But Biden is particularly strong among Democrats who consider themselves moderate and with people over 45, who are more likely to vote in primaries. All this suggests that D.C. pundits probably have not been taking him sufficiently seriously. He’s routinely an afterthought in 2020 parlor games on the Washington cocktail party circuit.

Many who came out Friday said they were there for Biden, not Donnelly. “He’s a straight talker, and I really believe he’s sincere. He seems genuine,” said Beckie Guffin, 67 of Valparaiso, Ind.

“He’s the kind of guy you could have a beer with,” added Thomas McDermott, the Democratic mayor of Hammond. “I don’t think I’d ever want to go out and get a drink with President Trump. In fact, President Trump makes me want to go out and drink.” (Trump is also a teetotaler.)

-- Biden says he will decide whether to run for president by January. Last week in London, he said he’s not a candidate “at this point.” It’s the latest iteration of what’s become a perennial Hamlet act.

He’s keeping an aggressive campaign schedule this fall that’s already taken him to other areas where Trump made gains, including Michigan and Pennsylvania. Earlier Friday, he stumped in rural Kentucky for House candidate Amy McGrath, who is challenging Rep. Andy Barr (R) in a district Trump won by 15 points but that was not long ago solidly Democratic. The crowd chanted, “Run, Joe, Run.” He went on Saturday to South Carolina, an early primary state, to support Democratic gubernatorial candidate James Smith. Since Labor Day, Biden has also spoken in blue states like California, New Jersey and Rhode Island — showing his ability to appeal to more culturally liberal voters. All told, he’s endorsed more than 50 candidates for House, Senate and governor.

At the Indiana rally, Biden said he first planned to keep respectfully quiet and give Trump time to succeed but changed his mind after watching the president’s response in the summer of 2017 to the death of Heather Heyer. Trump said afterward that there were “some very fine people on both sides” of the protests over the removal of a Confederate statue after a car plowed into the crowd she was standing with. “No president has ever, ever, ever, ever, ever since the Civil War done anything like that. Nobody,” said Biden, reading from a teleprompter. “These are the same guys calling refugees ‘animals,’ literally ripping children and infants from the arms of their parents at the border [and] preying on the hopelessness and despair of some of the communities under greatest distress. … Our silence is complicity.” 

-- One challenge for Biden is his age. He’s very energetic for 75, and he’ll be 79 in January 2021. But there are signs that people hunger for a fresh face more than someone who has already run for president twice before. Trying to make the point that Donnelly is one of the best lawmakers he’s ever worked with, Biden boasted that he is the 13th longest serving senator in U.S. history. “I’m going to reveal how ancient I am,” he quipped. A few minutes later, he noted that he got elected to the Senate in 1972 at the age of 29 even as Richard Nixon won in a landslide over George McGovern because he ran a fearless campaign. Moving to foreign policy, Biden noted that he’d just returned from Europe. “I’ve known every major world leader in the last 44 years because of the nature of my job,” he said.

From the looks of it, at least half the people in the gymnasium were women. But Biden often punctuated his comments with the word “man” like a surfer says “bruh,” underscoring that he’s from an older generation. For someone who has spent the bulk of his life wandering the marble corridors of power, he also tries to sound macho in a way few younger Democratic pols do. He said he knows Donnelly would have his back if a group of guys ever tried to jump him on the street. “I used to play baseball,” he said later. “We used the term pace on the ball. We could use some pace on the ball.”

The crowd in the arena was mixed between African Americans, labor types and others who have gotten engaged in politics for the first time during the Trump era. It was not just the steelworkers who liked Biden. Juanita Camacho, 46, was working at an elementary school the day after the 2016 election when a little Hispanic boy came crying because some white classmates told him that Trump’s victory meant he’d soon be sent back to Mexico. “Kids see Trump, and they think it’s okay not to be nice,” she said. “I love Joe Biden because I genuinely feel that he and President Obama cared a lot about the people. I’m not feeling that right now. That matters more in a politician than anything else: You have to care about the people you’re representing.”

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Elizabeth Warren this morning released a DNA test that provides “strong evidence’’ she had a Native American in her family tree dating back six to 10 generations, the Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey scoops: “Warren, whose claims to Native American blood have been mocked by President Trump and other Republicans, provided the test results to the Globe … in an effort to defuse questions about her ancestry that have persisted for years. The analysis of Warren’s DNA was done by Carlos D. Bustamante, a Stanford University professor and expert in the field who won a 2010 MacArthur fellowship, also known as a genius grant, for his work on tracking population migration via DNA analysis. He concluded that ‘the vast majority’ of Warren’s ancestry is European, but he added that ‘the results strongly support the existence of an unadmixed Native American ancestor.’ … That timing fits Warren’s family lore, passed down during her Oklahoma upbringing, that her great-great-great-grandmother, O.C. Sarah Smith, was at least partially Native American. … If her great-great-great-grandmother was Native American, that puts her at 1/32nd American Indian.”

A sign of the times: Trump’s attacks on President Obama prompted him to release his long-form birth certificate, and now his relentless hits on the senior senator from Massachusetts as “Pocahontas” drove her to take and publish a DNA test. The president has even offered to give $1 million to a charity of Warren’s choice if she takes the test. Will he pay up?

This is also another proof point that Warren is totally running for president: She’s already released 10 years of tax returns. A Globe investigation last month found her claim to Native American heritage was not a factor when she got hired by the University of Pennsylvania or Harvard Law School.  She has deployed members of her staff to all four early primary states, plus Ohio, Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Matt Viser, who we just hired away from the Globe, explores Warren's campaign-in-waiting for today's paper: “Her effort, which goes far beyond the fundraising and endorsement speeches in which prospective presidential candidates typically engage, has encompassed work in all 50 states and close coordination with more than 150 campaigns. The result is a wide-ranging network that includes those running for state treasurer in Nevada, state legislature in Iowa and congressional offices around the country.  . . . She has also raised or donated $7.6 million for other candidates and committees this cycle. [Today], one of her aides said, she plans to donate another $460,000, which appears to place her ahead of most of her potential 2020 rivals except for Michael Bloomberg.”

Warren put up a “fact-squad” website addressing her heritage that includes a link to Bustamante's report. And she released this video:

-- RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel will stay on through the 2020 elections. Trump asked her to serve another term last week because he wants a woman leading the party and appreciates her fundraising efforts, aides said. (CNN’s Jeff Zeleny and Dan Merica)

-- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expecting a baby in the spring. Karla Adam, William Booth and Isaac Stanley-Becker report: “Their child, seventh in line for succession, will be a great-grandchild of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. With three cousins who are ahead in the line of succession, it is unlikely that the baby will ever be monarch. The couple touched down Monday morning in Sydney for a 16-day tour that begins in Australia — their first official royal tour. The trip follows in the tradition of Prince Harry’s parents, Price Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, whose first royal tour was to Australia and New Zealand.”

-- Sears filed for bankruptcy and announced it would close 142 stores. Rachel Siegel reports: “[The company] saw its stock price plunge last week after reports that it had hired an advisory firm to prepare a bankruptcy filing ahead of [a $134 million debt payment due Monday]. A personal familiar with the negotiations told The Post late last week that Sears planned to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, which would allow it to reorganize and possibly reemerge from bankruptcy with some part of the business intact.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. About 200,000 Floridians are still without power because of Hurricane Michael. Hundreds of thousands of others have had their power restored, but the hardest hit counties in the Panhandle remain largely in the dark. (Patricia Sullivan)
  2. A trial centered on the consideration of race in Harvard’s admissions process will begin this week. Harvard officials, students and alumni plan to testify in support of race-conscious admissions, but the Asian Americans who the lawsuit claims were victims of racial bias will remain anonymous. (Nick Anderson)
  3. The Homeland Security Department rarely urges action against agents accused of abusing immigrants. A new study found that, over a six-year period, just seven of 84 complaints sent to DHS’s Office of the Inspector General were investigated. (AP)
  4. Beginning today, electric scooters will be permitted in San Francisco again. The move follows a temporary citywide ban on the popular vehicles, which allowed transportation officials time to write rules governing their use. (Fredrick Kunkle)
  5. Storm Callum killed two people in the United Kingdom. The storm’s strong rains and winds of up to 70 mph caused rivers to overflow and homes to flood. (AP)
  6. Pope Francis canonized Italy’s Pope Paul VI and Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero. Paul presided over the church’s modernizing yet polarizing changes of the 1960s, while Romero was gunned down by right-wing death squads in 1980 after he spoke out against military oppression in El Salvador. (Nicole Winfield and Marcos Aleman)

  7. Police in Savannah, Ga., are seeking answers (or perhaps “eyewitnesses”) after a historic downtown statue of Nathanael Greene was adorned last week with two small googly eyes. “Who did this?!” the City of Savannah government demanded in a Facebook post, attaching a photo of the very alive-looking statue. “It may look funny but harming our historic monuments and public property is no laughing matter. In fact, it’s a crime.” (Amy B Wang)

THE KHASHOGGI CRISIS:

-- In a “60 Minutes” interview, Trump promised that Saudi Arabia would face “severe punishment” if it is found to be responsible for killing Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. “There's something really terrible and disgusting about that, if that was the case, so we're going to have to see,” Trump told CBS’s Lesley Stahl, adding: “We would be very upset and angry if that were the case. … As of this moment, they deny it, and they deny it vehemently. Could it be them? Yes.” Still, Trump maintained his opposition to canceling arms sales to the country, saying such a response would be “very foolish” and harm U.S. industries. (Loveday Morris, Souad Mekhennet and Kareem Fahim)

-- On the Sunday shows, a bipartisan chorus of senators endorsed swift action. Elise Viebeck reports:

  • “Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) called for limiting or suspending arms sales and reconsidering U.S. involvement in the civil war in Yemen. ‘Severe action needs to be taken,’ Flake said on ABC News’s ‘This Week.’ He said the Saudis’ explanation for Khashoggi’s disappearance ‘just isn’t plausible.’”
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin should refuse to attend an upcoming economic summit in Riyadh until the “facts are clear.” “I don't think any of our government officials should be going and pretending it's business as usual until we know exactly what's happened here,” Rubio said on CNN's “State of the Union.” He also warned of a “very strong congressional response” from both parties if the White House refuses to act. “I believe the Trump administration will do something — the President has said that. But if he doesn't, Congress will,” he said.
  • Chief White House economics adviser Larry Kudlow said Trump is “very, very serious” about retaliating if the Saudis are found responsible, adding on “Meet the Press” that Mnuchin will “make up his mind” this week about whether to attend the conference.

-- JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon announced he is dropping out of the “Davos in the Desert” conference in Riyadh, becoming the latest high-profile executive to boycott the conference in the wake of the Khashoggi allegations. Jeanne Whalen and Damian Paletta report: “The relationship with Saudi Arabia is important to Wall Street executives like Dimon because the country, whose sovereign wealth fund has an estimated more than $5 trillion in assets, is a major investor around the world and does significant business with Western financial firms. Saudi Arabia, for example, has hired JPMorgan and other big banks to help it sell government bonds in recent years. Western banks have also hoped to help the kingdom privatize its giant oil company … though the country’s plans for an initial public offering appear to have stalled in recent months. It is not clear whether decisions by Dimon or other financial executives about attending the conference would have any longer-term consequences for the business relationships between the oil-rich nation and Wall Street firms.”

-- Meanwhile, Jared Kushner is taking heat for convincing Trump to make Saudi Arabia his first foreign destination after taking office, Philip Rucker, Carol D. Leonnig and Anne Gearan report. “Kushner has celebrated [Mohammed bin Salman’s] moves to modernize Saudi’s economy and long-repressed society … Furthermore, he considers the crown prince an influential and wise sounding board on geopolitics in the Muslim world and holds out hope that the crown prince might eventually deliver support from Saudi Arabia … for his foundering Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. But the Khashoggi crisis has become a reckoning for Kushner. ‘I have a sense that they put all of their chips on the hope that the Saudis would be able to help the [U.S.], not only in dealing with the challenges of terrorism, but also in dealing with peace in the Middle East,’ said [former CIA director Leon Panetta]. Critics of the Trump administration say Kushner has been dangerously naive to trust [MBS] and has allowed himself to be manipulated by an ascendant monarch who charms foreigners yet has been ruthless in consolidating power inside the kingdom.”

-- To some who know MBS, the possibility of him ordering the brutal murder of a dissident does not seem so far-fetched. From Karen DeYoung and Kareem Fahim: “[These people] describe a dark and bullying side of a young man in a hurry, one who has absolute power and does not tolerate dissent. … Mohammed and people who know him assert that his Western admirers have always misunderstood his intentions, projecting their own hopes for the transformation of Saudi Arabia onto a prince who is the antithesis of the cautious, elderly leadership that has ruled the kingdom for decades, and seemed brash enough to push through his modernization plans.”

-- “[S]uddenly the ‘M.B.S.’ moniker took on a grim new meaning among the plugged-in set of Washington: Mister Bone Saw,” the New York Times’s Jim Rutenberg reports.

-- Saudi Arabia pushed back strongly against what it described as “threats” from the United States. In a statement published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the kingdom warned that if it “'receives any action, it will respond with greater action, and that the kingdom's economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy. The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures or repeating false accusations,’ the statement said.” (CBS News)

-- Turkey said the Saudi government has agreed to allow Turkish investigators to search the consulate, which could occur as soon as later today. Kareem Fahim and Souad Mekhennet report: “Turkey had publicly scolded the Saudi government for refusing repeated requests to search the consulate … The agreement for a search of the consulate came a day after Saudi leader King Salman called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, thanking him for welcoming the kingdom’s proposal to set up a ‘joint working group’ to probe Khashoggi’s disappearance, a Saudi statement said.”

MORE FROM "60 MINUTES”:

-- During his wide-ranging “60 Minutes” interview, Trump said he is unsure whether Jim Mattis will leave the administration, describing his defense secretary as “kind of a Democrat.” Felicia Sonmez reports: “Trump said that he has a ‘very good relationship’ with Mattis and that the two had lunch together ‘two days ago,’ but the president added that ‘it could be that he is’ leaving. ‘I think he’s sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth,’ Trump said. ‘But General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That’s Washington.’”

-- Trump also said that Vladimir Putin “probably” is involved in assassinations and poisonings. “But I rely on them; it’s not in our country,” Trump said. He later ridiculed the notion that his campaign would seek help from Russia. “Do you really think I’d call Russia to help me with an election? Give me a break! They wouldn’t be able to help me at all. Call Russia? It’s so ridiculous.” (Sonmez)

-- POTUS also defended his mockery of one of Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, during multiple campaign rallies“Had I not made that speech, we would not have won,” Trump told Stahl. He said he was “just saying she didn’t seem to know anything.”

-- Trump would not pledge to avoid interfering with Bob Mueller’s investigation. “I don't pledge anything,” Trump said. “But I will tell you, I have no intention of doing that. I think it's a very unfair investigation because there was no collusion of any kind.” When pressed, he added: “There is no collusion. I don't want to pledge. Why should I pledge to you? If I pledge, I'll pledge. I don't have to pledge to you. But I have . . . I have no intention of doing that.”

-- The president said he doesn't think climate change is a hoax but said things could swing in the other direction in the future. “I think something's happening. Something's changing, and it'll change back again,” Trump said. “I don't think it's a hoax, I think there's probably a difference. But I don't know that it's man-made. I will say this. I don't want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don't want to lose millions and millions of jobs. I don't want to be put at a disadvantage.” (CNN)

THE MIDTERMS:

-- Just months after Trump’s family separation policy caused an international uproar, GOP candidates are increasingly embracing immigration-based attacks, painting their Democratic opponents as the ones “pursuing an extreme immigration agenda that would fill the country with ‘sanctuary cities,’” the New York Times’s Julie Hirschfeld Davis reports. “The strategy, in play in a growing number of races, may be working. As a tight battle for control of Congress enters its closing weeks, Democrats have found that in politically competitive states, particularly ones that Mr. Trump carried in 2016, the attacks can easily turn crucial voting blocs against Democrats. . . . Many of the Republican attacks use misleading language and employ overblown claims … But the fear-based appeal demonstrates how Mr. Trump has overcome months of negative headlines about his hard-edge immigration policies to make the issue a potentially profitable one.

"'Sanctuary attacks pack a punch,’ says a [memo] prepared by the liberal Center for American Progress and the centrist [Third Way], that has been shared at about a dozen briefings for Democrats in recent weeks. Democrats, the strategists [advised], should spend ‘as little time as possible’ talking about immigration itself, and instead pivot to more fruitful issues for Democrats like health care and taxation. The strategists worry that Republicans’ foreboding immigration message is far more personal to most voters than the more modulated position of Democrats, whose push to protect [Dreamers] and to ensure humane treatment of undocumented people does not, in many cases, affect voters themselves.”

-- In case you missed it: The Post reported Friday that “the White House is actively considering plans that could again separate parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border.”

-- Republican strategists are anticipating they will lose their House majority, and they have already started pointing fingers. The AP’s Steve Peoples reports: “GOP operatives connected to several vulnerable candidates complain that the committee responsible for electing House Republicans has failed to deliver on its promise to invest $62 million in political advertising across 11 states this fall, a promise detailed in a September memo that declared, ‘The cavalry is coming.’ … Already, the Republican operatives and spending patterns by both sides indicate GOP defeat in as many as a dozen House races — halfway to the number Democrats need to seize the House majority this fall. Dozens more seats are in play.”

-- GOP candidates running in industrial Midwestern states Trump carried in 2016 have had trouble riding his momentum this year. Michael Scherer and Robert Costa report: “If current polling averages hold, Democrats will maintain all their Senate seats in [Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania], pick up a handful of House seats and, in some cases, retake the governors’ mansions. … The dramatic shift has forced political strategists to reevaluate their post-mortem lessons from the 2016 election, while raising new questions about Trump’s staying power in 2020. Democratic strategists, who worried that Iowa and Ohio were slipping away from them in presidential years, are now heartened and have begun to return their attention to the traditional bellwethers. ... There is a clear historical precedent for such a shift. Then-candidate Barack Obama swept the industrial Midwest in the 2008 elections, only to find his party battered in his first midterm contest two years later, when Republicans retook governorships in Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin, along with Senate seats in Indiana and Wisconsin.”

-- The Democratic Governors Association raised more than $100 million this election cycle, a record haul for the group. David Weigel reports: “From the start of 2017, the organization has raised roughly $103 million, a number that puts it behind the Republican Governors Association but ahead of where it has run in the last few cycles. … The RGA cracked the $100 million mark early this summer, and will report its best quarter ever later today, likely pushing its total closer to $140 million.”

-- Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and his Republican challenger, Corey Stewart, appeared to accuse each other of anti-Semitism during a candidate forum. From Antonio Olivo: “‘There’s a false narrative about Charlottesville that it was about [Confederate] statues, but when you really hear what people were chanting, there’s nothing about statues that makes you want to chant something out of a Nazi youth rally,’ Kaine said in a dig at Stewart for attracting support from white nationalists by championing the preservation of Confederate monuments in Virginia. … Stewart said the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement — whose goals include pressuring Israel into pulling its citizens out of the Gaza Strip and West Bank — has been championed by progressives in the United States who harbor anti-Semitic beliefs.”

-- A poll found Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.) leading in his race, despite his entanglement in an election fraud case. Gregory S. Schneider reports: “[Taylor] leads Democratic challenger Elaine Luria 50 percent to 43 percent in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, according to a new poll released Monday by Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Public Policy. Taylor has a 7-point lead among likely voters, suggesting that voters are not troubled by his involvement in a scandal in which his campaign staffers submitted fraudulent signatures in a failed effort to get another candidate onto the ballot.”

-- Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, who changed his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat last week, said on Twitter that the midterm elections “might be the most important vote in our lifetime.” Felicia Sonmez reports: “Cohen is out on bail until his sentencing in December, meaning he remains eligible to cast a ballot on Nov. 6. The midterms could be his last opportunity to vote for some time: He faces 46 to 63 months in prison, according to court filings.”

-- Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) was recorded snatching the cellphone of a Georgia Tech student after he was asked about possible voter suppression while campaigning for GOP gubernatorial candidate and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Amy B Wang reports: “The race attracted additional scrutiny [after the AP] reported that more than 53,000 voter registration applications were in limbo with Kemp’s office … [His opponent] has accused Kemp of voter suppression and using his current position to try to swing the gubernatorial race … ‘You stole my property,’ the student tells Perdue. … ‘Alright, you wanted a picture?’ the senator replies. ‘Give me my phone back, senator,’ the student says. ‘You wanted a picture? I’m going to give it to you,’ the senator continues, ignoring the student’s request. . . . ‘Give me my phone back, senator,’ the student repeats. At this point, the video rights itself again, apparently because the student is reunited with his phone. By then, Perdue is walking away, on a crowded pedestrian pathway.”

-- Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams distanced herself from Eric Holder’s recommendation at a rally with her that the party adopt a more combative stance. From Elise Viebeck: “In multiple interviews, Abrams dismissed Holder’s comment that Democrats should ‘kick ’em’ when Republicans ‘go low,’ a recasting of Michelle Obama’s 2016 slogan, ‘When they go low, we go high.’ ‘I think there’s a hyperbolic moment that happens in every campaign,’ Abrams said on NBC News’s ‘Meet the Press.’ … Holder, who has said he was speaking figuratively, made the comment this month while campaigning for Abrams in McDonough, Ga. The remark has become a flash point ahead of an election in which Republicans are seeking to galvanize their voters by painting Democrats as an ‘angry mob.’”

DIVIDED AMERICA:

-- “Street beatings and melees broke out on both coasts this weekend during confrontations involving the Proud Boys and antifascists — ideologically opposed movements that both condone political violence and practice it with some regularity on their opponents,” Avi Selk reports. “Police in New York and Portland are investigating viral videos of the attacks but have not yet blamed either group. New York’s Democratic mayor; governor; attorney general, however, have accused the Proud Boys of instigating the weekend’s first act of violence.”

In New York: “Gavin McInnes, who founded the Proud Boys in 2016 as a nationalist men’s club, was scheduled to speak at the Metropolitan Republican Club that evening about ‘Deep State Socialists’ and ‘Western Values’ — common themes for his group. After the speech, about two dozen Proud Boys emerged from the club to find a similarly sized group of protesters waiting to confront them, including antifascists, as seen in cellphone videos. … Cellphone videos show an unidentified victim writhing on the sidewalk while several men take turns kicking him, and at least a dozen Proud Boys in uniform polo shirts, scream various slurs.”

In Portland: “The next night, on the other side of the country, Proud Boys were reported among a right-wing group that marched through downtown Portland toward their ideological opponents. [Portland] has been consumed for two weeks with Black Lives Matter protests over a fatal police shooting in September. Those protests, in turn, provoked right-wing groups when video emerged last weekend of demonstrators blocking traffic and beating on a passing driver’s car. So on Saturday evening, a conservative group organized a ‘flash march for Law and Order’ — marching toward the downtown plaza where a memorial had been set up for the police shooting victim, Patrick Kimmons. … Predictably, the marchers arrived at the plaza to find it full of counterprotesters chanting ‘Black Lives Matter.’ … [T]he scene devolved into something like an exponentially larger version of the Manhattan assault.”

-- The Metropolitan Republican Club defended its decision to invite the Proud Boys founder to speak. “We do invite speakers to the Club with differing political points of view — some we agree with and some which we do not. But we are staunch supporters of the 1st Amendment,” club officials said in a statement. (BuzzFeed News)

-- New York police released photos of unnamed men they want to question in connection to the Proud Boys assault. (ABC7 NY)

-- Hillary Clinton defended her husband’s decision not to resign over his misconduct during the Monica Lewinsky scandal in an appearance on CBS's “Sunday Morning”: “The former secretary of state said she disagrees with those who now say he should have stepped down. ‘In retrospect, do you think Bill should've resigned in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal?’ correspondent Tony Dokoupil asked. ‘Absolutely not,’ Clinton said. ‘It wasn't an abuse of power?’ ‘No. No.’ … Dokoupil asked Hillary Clinton, ‘There are people who look at the incidents of the 90s and they say, 'A president of the United States cannot have a consensual relationship with an intern; the power imbalance is too great.’’ ‘ … who was an adult,’ Hillary said. ‘But let me ask you this: Where's the investigation of the current incumbent [president], against whom numerous allegations have been made, and which he dismisses, denies, and ridicules? ‘So, there was an investigation [of Bill], and it, as I believe, came out in the right place.’”

-- “How Newt Gingrich Broke American Politics,” by the Atlantic’s McKay Coppins: “[F]ew figures in modern history have done more than Gingrich to lay the groundwork for Trump’s rise. During his two decades in Congress, he pioneered a style of partisan combat — replete with name-calling, conspiracy theories, and strategic obstructionism — that poisoned America’s political culture and plunged Washington into permanent dysfunction . . . When I ask him how he views his legacy, Gingrich takes me on a tour of a Western world gripped by crisis. … But as he surveys the wreckage of the modern political landscape, he is not regretful. He’s gleeful. ‘The old order is dying,’ he tells me. ‘Almost everywhere you have freedom, you have a very deep discontent that the system isn’t working.’ And that’s a good thing? I ask. ‘It’s essential,’ he says, ‘if you want Western civilization to survive.’”

-- “He’s ‘One of Us’: The Undying Bond Between the Bible Belt and Trump,” by the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman: “Few things have appeared to test the bond between Mr. Trump and the South, a political coupling of a thrice-married New Yorker and voters in the Bible Belt that seemed unlikely from the start. The president’s swing this month through deep-red Tennessee and Mississippi, where he basked in the warmth of supporters at political rallies, confirmed that despite the scandals and chaos that have churned out of the White House, their relationship endures.”

-- “SNL has skewered every president since Ford. All of them reacted the same way — until now,” by Steve Hendrix: “Gerald Ford had been in office just more than a year when the words ‘Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!’ were first broadcast across the land. … The show’s Ford was Chevy Chase, a lanky slapstick comedian who portrayed the commander in chief as President Pratfall, a genial bungler stumbling across the world stage with a complacent grin. That was not how the president — an avid tennis player who had been a college football star — saw himself. ‘He was probably our most athletic president,’ said Ford’s press secretary Ron Nessen, now 84 and living in suburban Maryland. ‘It really bothered him to be portrayed as a klutz.’ But in public, Ford’s reaction to the Saturday Night sendups was very different: He laughed. The president invited the entertainer who skewered him to the White House. When Chase was the featured comedian at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in 1976, Ford embraced the shtick, scattering papers and silverware across the dais, mostly on Chase’s lap."

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- Voters spurned Angela Merkel’s conservative allies in Bavaria’s state parliamentary election — scrambling the status quo as voters instead redistributed their support to parties on both ends of the political spectrum. Griff Witte reports: “For decades, the [Merkel-aligned CSU] came as close as Western Europe gets to a state party. That changed Sunday, with voters in the affluent region defecting en masse … The result won’t end the CSU’s 61-year streak in power, but it will force it to bargain for partners. And it will almost certainly add to the strain on an already beleaguered Merkel, whose other coalition partner, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), was also punished on Sunday. The combined share of the vote won by the SPD and CSU was down more than 20 percent since the last election, in 2013. Projected results showed the CSU falling from nearly half the vote five years ago to 37 percent.”

-- A dispute over Britain’s border with Ireland diverted a possible Brexit deal before this week’s E.U. summit. From Reuters’s Gabriela Baczynska, Alastair Macdonald and Elizabeth Piper: “EU negotiator Michel Barnier said after meeting British Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab that they could still not bridge a gap between his ‘backstop’ demands that Northern Ireland stay in the EU’s economic zone if there is a risk that border checks with EU member Ireland could revive conflict, and London’s rejection of any checks on trade between the province and the British mainland. Both sides want to end more than a year of talks by mid-November.”

THE REST OF THE AGENDA:

-- White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow defended Trump for saying the Fed has “gone crazy,” arguing that Trump respects the central bank’s independence and was merely “giving his opinion” about the recent interest-rate hikes. Felicia Sonmez reports: "'His concern is that the Fed might move too quickly and might choke off the economic recovery, which is now running 3 to 4 percent,’ Kudlow said. ‘He’s not impinging on Fed independence. He didn’t say, ‘I want you to change your plan. … He’s just weighing in,” Kudlow said. “There’s nothing wrong with him weighing in.”

-- Trump has tapped Catholic activist and longtime Washington lawyer Pat Cipollone as the next White House counsel, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman report: “Cipollone, who practices commercial litigation at Stein Mitchell Cipollone Beato & Missner, is well liked and respected among Trump’s personal lawyers and had been informally advising them since at least June on the [Mueller] probe . . . Asked about the [job late Saturday], Trump said, ‘I haven’t named the new White House counsel, but over a short period of time.’ On Cipollone, he said, ‘Pat’s a great guy. I don’t want to say, but … He’s a very talented and he’s a very good man[.]’ Cipollone is expected to take over the premier legal office in the next week, pending a security clearance review.

-- The Chinese ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, said that it is “very confusing” trying to discern who Trump listens to on trade. Felicia Sonmez reports: “’Are you clear who [Trump] listens to on trade issues, whether it’s moderates like [Larry Kudlow and Steven Mnuchin] or hard-liners like [Peter Navarro]?’ host Chris Wallace asked … Cui replied: ‘You tell me.’ ‘Honestly, I’ve been talking to ambassadors of other countries in Washington, D.C., and this is also part of their problem,” Cui continued. ‘They don’t know who is the final decision-maker. Of course, presumably the president will take the final decision. But who is playing what role? Sometimes, it could be very confusing.’" 

-- “After the devastation of Hurricane Michael and a recent [U.N.] report warning of a looming climate crisis, [Kudlow] and [Rubio] on Sunday questioned the extent of human contribution to rising global temperatures,” Chris Mooney and Elise Viebeck report. “’I think they overestimate,’ Kudlow said of the U.N. report … ‘I’m not denying any climate-change issues,’ Kudlow said on ABC’s ‘This Week.’ ‘I’m just saying, do we know precisely … things like how much of it is manmade, how much of it is solar, how much of it is oceanic, how much of it is rain forest and other issues?’ Rubio (R-Fla.), speaking on CNN about the effects of Hurricane Michael, said that sea levels and ocean temperatures have risen in a ‘measurable’ way and that humans have played some role. But he questioned how big that role is. ‘I think many scientists would debate the percentage of what is attributable to man versus normal fluctuations,’ Rubio said on ‘State of the Union.’" 

 

 

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

The Council on Foreign Relations president struck down Trump's claim about the European Union:

A former U.S. ambassador to Russia questioned Trump's foreign policy:

From a New York Times reporter:

From an NYU professor and former Middle East bureau chief for Newsday:

From Obama's former ethics czar:

A New York Times reporter analyzed Trump's comments about Mattis's potential departure:

An Atlantic writer reminded his Twitter followers of this:

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) mocked polling about potential 2020 Democratic candidates:

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is traveling around North Dakota in the final runup to Nov. 6:

A Post reporter noted this of a Senate debate:

A New York congressman accepted a questionable donation, per a New York Times reporter:

The Post's fact checker commented on Republican candidates' recent immigration-based attack ads:

An Atlantic editor criticized Sen. Jeff Flake's comments about the U.N. climate change report:

Stormy Daniels's lawyer pushed back against his conservative critics:

And one of those conservative critics, a CNN host, hit right back:

A New York Times writer pointed this out about SNL's skit about Kanye West's White House visit:

From a Fox News reporter:

And this Trump tweet turned six years old:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- “Marijuana is emerging among California’s vineyards, offering promise and concern,” by Scott Wilson: “[Marijuana] could help reinvigorate a fading agricultural tradition along the state’s Central Coast. Brushed by ocean breeze, cannabis has taken root, offering promise and prompting the age-old question of whether there can be too much of a good thing. … [L]egalization already is reordering the business and geography of cannabis cultivation, pushing crops into places they have never been. The new cultivations are challenging long-held beliefs in some conservative communities, including this one, where a rural libertarian streak is confronting a crop still stigmatized despite its legality.”

-- Wall Street Journal, “A Sexual-Assault Accusation in New Jersey Spotlights a National Dilemma,” by Kate King: “Katie Brennan spent more than a year trying to get authorities to take action against the man she accuses of sexually assaulting her. Finally, she emailed New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. … A meeting with the governor was never scheduled. And months later, the man, Albert J. Alvarez, was still working for the state, as chief of staff at the New Jersey Schools Development Authority. Mr. Alvarez resigned his position Oct. 2, the same day the Journal emailed him for comment.”

-- New York Times, “Code Name Jane: The Women Behind a Covert Abortion Network,” by Clyde Haberman: “In the years before abortion became legal, a clandestine group helped women with unwanted pregnancies get around the law.”

-- “Ballgowns, tuxedos, champagne: The last real ball in Washington is a relic of the past,” by Roxanne Roberts: “Others balls have come and gone, victims of changing tastes and economic realities. Who wants to waltz, even if they know how? Meridian is the last ball of its kind. It is a survivor of a bygone era, a vision of Washington less as it is today and more as it would like to imagine itself: elegant, serious, sophisticated and united for important issues and causes.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Trump Hangs ‘Tacky’ Fantasy Painting of Himself With GOP Presidents in White House,” from the Daily Beast: “Trump’s latest addition to White House decor is a kitschy fantasy painting that shows him relaxing with Republican presidents of the past — an update to a best-selling image commonly found in tourist gift shops and online galleries. The artwork, ‘The Republican Club’ by Andy Thomas, could be seen in the background of a photo tweeted by 60 Minutes, which aired an interview with Trump on Sunday night. It shows a slimmed-down Trump sandwiched between Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, directly across from Abraham Lincoln. Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and both Bushes are also in the imaginary scene. Amateur art critics sneered on social media that the painting was ‘tacky,’ ‘a travesty,’ or ‘blasphemy.’ Some said it looked like the political version of the famous ‘dogs playing poker’ painting.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

An organization that advocates for retired and laid-off workers got swept up in online arguments about the crowd size of a Trump rally. From BuzzFeed News: “In preparation for Wednesday's Trump rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, Mike Oles III paid $3 to place an ad on Craigslist. ‘Linestanders needed for Trump Rally,’ it said, and offered $100 per person to hold a place in line for someone from his organization. Oles is the field director for Good Jobs Nation, an organization … [that] advocates for laid-off and retired workers across the US. Many of their members are retirees and can’t stand in line for several hours to get into a Trump rally. So they hire line standers. . . . Soon Oles was inundated with calls and text messages. Very few of them wanted the job — most left angry and harassing messages. . . . [A]nti-Trumpers seized on the ad as proof that Trump’s rallies are poorly attended and therefore require people to be hired to make lines look longer."

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump and the first lady will travel today to Okaloosa County, Fla. No details were offered on their trip, but they are expected to tour parts of the Florida Panhandle devastated by Hurricane Michael.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“I'm not saying I trust everybody in the White House. I'm not a baby. It's a tough business. … Washington D.C. is a vicious, vicious place. The attacks, the bad mouthing, the speaking behind your back. But, you know, and in my way, I feel very comfortable here.” — Trump on “60 Minutes” (CBS News)

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- The temperature will hover in the 70s today, but D.C. may see some rain. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Mild breezes from the south at 10 to 15 mph (gusts to 20) push high temperatures up to 70 to 75, but also draw in clouds and the chance of showers. Shower chances, around 40 percent, focus early this morning and again toward the evening. Overall, it’s not a bad day as it’s dry more often than not.”

-- The Redskins beat the Panthers 23-17. (Les Carpenter)

-- Democratic congressional candidate Leslie Cockburn held a rally with her daughter, actress Olivia Wilde. The free event was attended by more than 800 people. Laura Vozzella reports: “Democrats said the size of the crowd signaled that Cockburn, a former ‘60 Minutes’ producer and author, is gaining steam in Virginia’s red-leaning 5th Congressional District against Republican Denver Riggleman, a distillery owner and former Air Force intelligence officer.”

-- Virginia Rep. Dave Brat’s Democratic challenger, Abigail Spanberger, raised about three times as much as the GOP incumbent in the last quarter. Laura Vozzella reports: “[Spanberger] raised nearly $3.6 million over the past three months — a record quarter in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District and more than the $2.8 million Brat raised for his last two campaigns combined. … A spokeswoman for Brat said the incumbent raised more than $1 million in the third quarter.”

-- A majority of Maryland parents with young children say crowded classrooms are a problem in their kids’ schools. From Donna St. George and Emily Guskin: “More than 6 in 10 Maryland parents with children 18 or younger believe crowded classrooms are a problem in their schools, according to a new poll that also shows substantial concern about low test scores and overtesting. Even so, a majority of voters rate their county’s public schools as good or excellent, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

The Post compared SNL's version of Kanye West's meeting with Trump to the real thing:

Seth Meyers temporarily returned to “Weekend Update” and continued mocking West's White House visit:

A driver in California was thankfully left uninjured after his truck rolled into an embankment:

And Iowa State's football halftime show was taken over by dozens of dancing dinosaurs: