With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: Donald Trump offered a revealing, if not totally surprising, window into his priorities on Thursday. Immigration, he tweeted, is “far more important to me, as President, than Trade.”

Protectionism and nativism have historically gone hand in hand. Both were centerpieces of Trump’s 2016 message and attracted nontraditional GOP voters who never would have considered backing Mitt Romney four years earlier, especially across the industrial Midwest. But this president doesn’t seem to hesitate when the two come into conflict.

He threatened yesterday to scuttle the revised NAFTA deal he just inked if Mexico does not stop the “onslaught” of migrants coming into the United States. He suggested he would cut off all foreign aid to other counties in Latin America, as well. And he said he’s considering calling up the U.S. military to “close” the border, which would surely damage the economy.

-- Trump is like an old rock band that struggles to introduce new material because the crowds at concerts want to hear the classics they love. In this case, that song is “Build the wall.” That’s not to be confused with “Tear down this wall,” a popular hit by a previous Republican president who sang to a very different tune.

-- His unexpected victory two years ago only added to his preternatural confidence to follow his own instincts, regardless of what establishmentarians and pundits tell him he should do. In June 2015, Trump launched his campaign by ignoring a speech that advisers had written for him. He riffed instead about how Mexico was sending “rapists” and drug dealers to the United States. It prompted howls of outrage from many, but it also catapulted him to the top of the crowded GOP field.

In 2018, the so-called pros have advised him to focus on the booming economy, his tax cuts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. But Trump believes strongly in his gut that espousing hardline positions related to undocumented immigrants will galvanize his core supporters to turn out for GOP candidates when his name won’t be on the ballot. At a rally in Montana last night, Trump referred to immigration as “our issue.”

The president has told party pooh-bahs that he believes the midterms will primarily be a base election. His adopted party is likely to hold the Senate because this year’s best pickup opportunities are in states he carried by double digits that are overwhelmingly white and heavily rural, where his immigration positions most resonate. GOP candidates, especially in red states, have followed Trump’s lead and made immigration a major theme of their advertising in the home stretch. The strategy might work.

-- For a variety of reasons, which I plan to explore in depth next week, there’s also evidence that Latinos are not super activated about voting this year. Many white voters in a border state like Arizona or an immigrant-heavy state like Nevada support securing the border. Strategists from both parties agree that Arizona governor’s race was close, but they say Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has now opened a lead that appears insurmountable by relentlessly attacking challenger David Garcia for being soft on border security. Strategists from both parties say Nevada GOP Sen. Dean Heller, who last year was presumed to be perhaps the most vulnerable senator up for reelection in 2018, is in a much stronger position than he was because Hispanic voters are not fully activated. Heller is now seen as more likely to survive than Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).

-- An increase in illegal border crossings this year, after a drop during the first six months of his presidency, has angered Trump, who has been demanding that aides enact more extreme policies to deter new arrivals. “As pressure mounts, nerves have begun to fray inside the White House, with national security adviser John Bolton and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly engaging in a shouting match over immigration just outside the Oval Office on Thursday, according to White House aides,” per David Nakamura, Josh Partlow and John Wagner. “Bolton had accused Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen of not doing enough to stem the surge in border crossings, and Kelly, who preceded Nielsen in the homeland security job and handpicked her as his successor, came to her defense, aides said. They described the argument as profane and loud enough to draw stares from others in the West Wing. …

The White House is also considering a new policy, known as ‘binary choice,’ which would detain migrant families together and give parents a choice — stay in immigration jail with their child for months or years as their asylum case proceeds, or allow their child to be assigned to a government shelter while a relative or guardian can apply to gain custody.”

-- The ACLU tabulates that 245 migrant children who were taken from their parents earlier this year remain in government custody today. “The parents of 175 of the children have been deported … and 125 of them so far have decided to remain in the United States and pursue asylum on their own,” Arelis R. Hernández reports.

-- Trump last night also spread a false conspiracy theory being batted around on far-right sites that Democrats are funding the current caravan of about 4,000 people moving from Honduras toward the Southern border. “Now we're starting to find out, and I won't say it 100 percent, I'll put it a little tiny question mark on the end … a lot of money has been passing through people to try to get to the border by Election Day, because they think that is a negative for us,” the president said in Missoula, Mont. “Number one, they are being stopped. Number two, regardless, that's our issue.”

Trump appeared to be referring to a video that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a frequent ally, posted on Twitter on Wednesday that supposedly depicted migrants in Honduras ‘giving cash’ to migrants in the Central American country as they set off for the U.S.,explain Politico’s Christopher Cadelago and Brent Griffiths. “Going even further, Gaetz called for an investigation to examine whether ‘US-backed NGOs’ or the financier George Soros, a frequent subject of conservative conspiracy theories, were behind the alleged payments. Trump himself tweeted out the video on Thursday. Regardless of what was actually being passed out in the video, where men are shown handing something to women waiting in line, there was evidence that the video was actually shot in Guatemala, not Honduras.

“At the rally, the president added that Democrats figured ‘everybody coming in’ was going to vote for their candidates — though he did not mention that only legal citizens can participate in elections, and that attaining nationality and registering to vote is a process that can’t be completed before Nov. 6. … On Trump’s way to the Montana rally, scenes of the caravan played on a loop on Fox News, to which TVs aboard Air Force One were tuned.”

The issue is not going away. GOP congressional leaders persuaded Trump to reluctantly punt a potential federal government shutdown over wall funding from Sept. 30 until December. That means immigration will probably dominate the lame-duck session. And Trump said in Montana that he’s planning to keep talking about the “caravan” through Nov. 6. Distilling his closing argument into one sentence, he told the crowd: “This will be an election of Kavanaugh, the caravan, law and order and common sense.”

-- How it’s playing:

  • CNN: “Bolton and Kelly shouting match sparks resignation fears.”
  • Bloomberg News: “Neither of the men is resigning,” per three people familiar with the episode. “Trump is aware of the argument, the people said, even though the president told reporters he didn’t know about it before boarding Air Force One to travel to Montana …”
  • Fox News: “US, Mexico agree on plan to handle migrant caravan from Central America.”
  • AP: “U.S.-bound migrant caravans have been going on for years — with traveling in numbers seen as offering protection from assaults, robberies, even shakedowns by police. They’re also a cheaper alternative to the $7,000 to $10,000 that smugglers, charge for passage to the border … Still, it wasn’t until this year that the caravans received widespread attention.”
  • Dallas Morning News: “Smugglers may be taking advantage of Trump’s policies as immigrant families again surge across border.”
  • San Jose Mercury News: “Trump considers family separation ‘2.0’; more immigrants might already be separated.”
  • The Guardian: “Republican attack ads echo Trump's anti-immigration message to whip up fear among supporters.”
  • The Atlantic: “Jeff Sessions Is Quietly Transforming the Nation’s Immigration Courts.”
  • The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell: “The Trump administration is also punishing legal immigrants. Here’s how.”
  • Voice of America: “Trump Administration Seeks DACA Immigration Ruling Soon.”
  • The Hill: “Conservatives fear Trump will cut immigration deal.”
  • Pacific Standard Magazine: “With Flu Season Nearly Here, Medical Experts Warn that Trump's Immigration Policy is a Public-Health Threat.”
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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- During last night's rally in Montana, Trump also praised GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte for physically assaulting a reporter. Seung Min Kim and Felicia Sonmez report: “The remarks from Trump at a campaign rally — staged at an airport hangar here with a mountainous backdrop — drew boisterous cheers from the conservative crowd, who applauded as Trump noted of Gianforte: ‘By the way, never wrestle him.’ ‘Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of — he’s my guy,’ Trump said. Gianforte pleaded guilty to assaulting Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, an altercation that occurred in the final days of Gianforte’s special election race in May 2017 … Trump recalled that as he was traveling in Rome last May, he heard that Gianforte had body-slammed a journalist shortly before voters went to the polls in his closely contested election race — and initially thought the altercation would damage Gianforte’s prospects. ‘Then I said, ‘well wait a minute, I know Montana pretty well. I think it might help him,’ Trump told the crowd in Missoula. ‘And it did!'”

-- Ahead of Trump's rally, former Montana GOP chairman Will Deschamps Sr. sought to deter potential protesters with a cryptic and vague reminder that Montana is an “open carry state.” “For all the prospective attendees to the Trump event. Come early.  Also all you protesters, show up as well. This is a concealed and open carry state and we know how to use em'," he wrote on Facebook. Deschamps, a Marine Corps veteran who led the state party from 2009 to 2015, signed off with "USMC trained." (Alex Horton)

-- Afghanistan has delayed legislative elections in the Kandahar province after two provincial officials were assassinated. Pamela Constable reports: “A spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani announced just after noon that the National Security Council had decided in an ‘extraordinary meeting’ that Saturday’s polls would be suspended, as recommended by provincial leaders and the National Election Commission. Thursday’s brazen attack, which was immediately claimed by the Taliban, was aimed at a meeting of senior U.S. military and Afghan leaders in Kandahar city. Gen. Austin ‘Scott’ Miller, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, escaped unharmed, but Lt. Gen. Abdul Razik, the Kandahar police commander, and Abdul Momin, the provincial intelligence chief, died of gunshot wounds...”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. The Justice Department is investigating Catholic Church dioceses in Pennsylvania accused of covering up sex abuse for decades. At least seven of eight Catholic dioceses in the state have confirmed they received federal subpoenas in the sprawling investigation. (Devlin Barrett, Julie Zauzmer and Michelle Boorstein)
  2. The Red Sox head to the World Series. Boston defeated the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series after five games and will host the first World Series game on Tuesday. The Dodgers lead the Brewers three games to two as the NLCS returns to Milwaukee tonight. (Dave Sheinin)
  3. Rihanna turned down performing at the Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show out of support for Colin Kaepernick. “The NFL and CBS really wanted Rihanna to be next year’s performer in Atlanta,” one source told Us Weekly. “They offered it to her, but she said no because of the kneeling controversy. She doesn’t agree with the NFL’s stance.”

  4. Many rural communities hit by Hurricane Michael remain without power or clean water. Neighbors and churches are providing food and supplies as residents wait for more government support. (Robert Samuels)
  5. Onlookers gathered outside a condominium in Manhattan's Upper West Side, cheering as the words “Trump Place” were pried from the side of the high-rise. On Wednesday, residents voted to remove the name, and on Thursday, the letters came down. (Philip Bump)
  6. Uber has begun testing an on-demand staffing business as part of an ongoing effort to diversify the company before it plans to go public in 2019. The new business venture, called “Uber Works,” would allow companies to hire short-term workers, such as waiters or security personnel, for events and various corporate functions. (The Verge)
  7. Netflix is warning its employees to brace for a Wall Street Journal investigation of its culture and workplace morale. Executives anticipate a deep piece not unlike the New York Times’s 2015 probe of Amazon and are worried a negative story could hinder growth just days after a strong third-quarter earnings report. (NBC News)
  8. Tesla announced the cheapest version yet of its newest electric car, the Model 3, as it tries to move past a string of controversies tied to CEO Elon Musk. Musk said the car would cost $35,000, but that price accounts for federal and state tax rebates. Without those discounts, the car would cost $45,000. (Drew Harwell)

NEARLY THREE WEEKS AFTER JAMAL'S DISAPPEARANCE, THE WORLD WAITS FOR ANSWERS:

-- Trump said it appears veteran journalist and Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi is dead and warned the United States could consider “very severe” measures against Saudi Arabia if the kingdom is found responsible. Erin Cunningham and John Wagner report: “Trump’s remarks reflect the vacillating strategies and views in the White House over its response and possible punishments toward one of its key Middle East allies.”

  • “A person close to the White House said Saudi officials are considering blaming Khashoggi’s death on Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy head of Saudi intelligence and a close adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Assiri would be accused of mounting a rogue operation to kill Khashoggi, which would deflect blame from the crown prince, who is the de facto ruler of the kingdom.”
  • Trump said the White House expects to have an official Saudi account of what happened to Khashoggi “very soon.” “And I think we’ll be making a statement, a very strong statement. But, we’re waiting for the results of about three different investigations, and we should be able to get to the bottom fairly soon,” he added.

-- In an interview with the New York Times, Trump expressed confidence in multiple intelligence reports that strongly suggest a high-level Saudi role in Khashoggi’s assassination. “Unless the miracle of all miracles happens, I would acknowledge that he’s dead,” Trump said. “That’s based on everything — intelligence coming from every side.”

-- Turkish investigators are looking into the possibility that Khashoggi’s remains were taken to a forest on the outskirts of Istanbul. The AP’s Ayse Wieting and Suzan Fraser report: “[One Turkish] official [said] that police have established that two vehicles belonging to the consulate, left the building on Oct. 2 — the day Khashoggi had walked into the consulate and vanished. One of the vehicles traveled to the nearby Belgrade Forest while the other traveled to the city of Yalova, across the Sea of Marmara from Istanbul, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the secrecy of the ongoing investigation. It was not immediately clear if police had already searched the areas.”

-- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he won't go to next week’s investment conference in Riyadh, bowing to pressure from GOP lawmakers. Finance chiefs from France, Britain and the Netherlands also announced that they would boycott the conference.

-- Some conservatives hard-liners have mounted a “whisper campaign” against Khashoggi in an effort designed to insulate Trump from questions about his handling of the journalist’s disappearance. Robert Costa and Karoun Demirjian report: “In recent days, a cadre of conservative House Republicans allied with Trump has been privately exchanging articles from right-wing outlets that fuel suspicion of Khashoggi, highlighting his association with the Muslim Brotherhood during his youth and raising conspiratorial questions about his work decades ago as an embedded reporter covering Osama bin Laden, according to four GOP officials involved in the discussions … Those aspersions — which many lawmakers have been wary of stating publicly due to the political risks of doing so — have begun to flare into public view as conservative media outlets have amplified the claims, which are aimed in part in protecting Trump . . . Several Trump administration aides are aware of the Khashoggi attacks that are circulating on Capitol Hill and in conservative media, the GOP officials said, adding that aides are being careful to not encourage the disparagement but are also doing little to contest it.

Fred Hiatt, The Washington Post’s editorial page editor who published Khashoggi’s work, sharply criticized the false and distorted claims: “As anyone knows who knew Jamal — or read his columns — he was dedicated to the values of free speech and open debate. He went into exile to promote those values, and now he may even have lost his life for his dogged determination in their defense,” Hiatt said in a statement. "It may not be surprising that some Saudi-inspired trolls are now trying to distract us from the crime by smearing Jamal. It may not even be surprising to see a few Americans joining in. But in both cases it is reprehensible."

-- One Turkish official said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heard a recording of Khashoggi’s apparent killing, a claim the State Department denies, ABC News’s Ian Pannell and Engin Bas report: “[T]he official claimed the recording was played in meetings in Turkey on Wednesday, and that Pompeo was given a transcript of the recordings. … The White House referred questions to the State Department which denied Pompeo had heard the recording or seen a transcript. ‘Secretary Pompeo has neither heard a tape nor has he seen a transcript related to [Khashoggi’s] disappearance,’ said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert. Yesterday, on his way back from Istanbul, Pompeo was asked if he had heard the audio. ‘I don’t have anything to say about that,’ he said.”

-- Some accuse Pompeo of showing too much deference to Saudi leadership. Carol Morello and Anne Gearan report: “In his brief public appearances with the Saudi leaders, Pompeo was smiling and courteous, showing no signs of moral affront over what may have happened to the journalist … Former diplomats and foreign policy experts say they did not expect Pompeo to use a public platform to express moral outrage over Khashoggi’s fate. To do so could have undermined his ability to deliver a stern message in private. … But some analysts said Pompeo was too deferential to the Saudi leadership in public, inadvertently sending a message that the United States is willing to help the kingdom emerge from the crisis unscathed.”

-- “[T]he Senate and House intelligence committees should begin an urgent oversight investigation of what U.S. spy agencies knew about threats against Khashoggi,” David Ignatius writes. “This congressional inquiry should focus first on the intelligence agencies’ ‘duty to warn’ Khashoggi about any lethal threat, because his U.S. residency qualified him as a ‘U.S. person’ for whom such a warning was required. It should look, too, for any hint that U.S. intelligence about [MBS] has been skewed by the Trump White House for political reasons. And the investigation should examine the larger problem of U.S. visibility into the kingdom, which has too often been a black hole for our spy agencies.”

-- “Why one man’s disappearance captured the outrage and media attention that war has not,” by Paul Farhi: “In the months before [Khashoggi’s disappearance], Saudi Arabia’s government racked up a startling record of human rights abuses. It has led a coalition waging a brutal war in neighboring Yemen, which has killed thousands of civilians, including 40 children whose school bus was bombed in August. … Why the reaction to Khashoggi, a man few people had heard of until his disappearance, when so many other acts of barbarity by the Saudis have been largely overlooked? The answer may be a combination of the time and place of Khashoggi’s disappearance, and the gruesome circumstances of his apparent death, which may have made his story more ‘relatable’ to American viewers and readers. The accumulation of details has created the kind of sustained news coverage that the faceless victims of war and violence rarely receive, experts on international affairs say.”

ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN:

-- Secretary Ryan Zinke violated the Interior Department’s policy on travel, according to a new report from the agency’s internal watchdog. Juliet Eilperin, Lisa Rein and Josh Dawsey report: “The report determined that staff in the department’s solicitor office ‘approved [Ryan Zinke’s wife, Lolita], and other individuals to ride in Government vehicles with Secretary Zinke’ although Interior policy prohibited this practice. The employee who authorized the move told investigators that ‘she routinely advised’ Zinke’s aides ‘that it would be ‘cleanest’ and ‘lowest risk’ if she did not ride with him’ but could find a way to justify it. This summer, Zinke changed Interior’s policy so that family members could ride with him. Zinke confirmed to investigators that he had directed his staff to research the possibility of giving his wife a volunteer job at Interior, a move that one ethics official objected to on the grounds that it was designed so that Zinke wouldn’t ‘have to pay’ for his wife’s travel. ... Hours before the report was released, Interior Department officials said that they did not approve the hiring of a political appointee as their agency’s acting watchdog, calling the announcement of her move by [HUD] Secretary Ben Carson ‘100 percent false information.’”

-- The White House removed the acting leader of a small agency that had attracted controversy for providing jobs to Trump’s political supporters. Robert O'Harrow Jr. reports: “[Brock] Bierman’s departure [from the Millennium Challenge Corporation] is the latest upheaval at an agency that has not had a permanent leader since the start of the Trump administration. … Bierman succeeded another acting leader, Robert Blau, who resigned amid controversy over the White House’s placement of more than a dozen Trump supporters into jobs previously reserved for development specialists.”

-- Rank-and-file employees at the Justice Department say Jeff Sessions’s leadership has caused low morale and infighting. The New York Times’s Katie Benner reports: “During his 20 months in office, [Sessions] has swept in perhaps the most dramatic political shift in memory at the Justice Department, from the civil rights-centered agenda of the Obama era to one that favors his hard-line conservative views on immigration, civil rights and social issues. Now, discontent and infighting have taken hold at the Justice Department, in part because Mr. Sessions was so determined to carry out that transformation that he ignored dissent, at times putting the Trump administration on track to lose in court and prompting high-level departures, according to interviews over several months with two dozen current and former career department lawyers who worked under Mr. Sessions.”

-- Trump is considering Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, to replace Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador. Politico’s Andrew Restuccia reports: “Trump initially seemed to rule out choosing Grenell for the job, telling reporters he’d prefer to keep him in Germany. … But in recent days, several of Trump’s closest advisers have put forward Grenell’s name again, pointing to his seven-year stint as the United States’ U.N. spokesman. Grenell met with officials at the White House last week to discuss the job, according to two administration officials. At a separate White House meeting on Wednesday, several members of the president’s national security team mentioned Grenell’s name when asked to recommend their favored candidates for the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. position, two other administration officials said.”

-- Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), one of Trump’s top congressional allies, called on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to resign. Karoun Demirjian reports: “‘It’s time that Rod Rosenstein steps down. He should do so immediately,’ [Meadows] told reporters, questioning the deputy attorney general’s ‘candor’ and accusing him of intentionally avoiding an interview with lawmakers. ‘It would serve the country well; it would serve this president well,’ Meadows continued. On Thursday evening, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) announced that Rosenstein would come to Capitol Hill to speak with their panels Wednesday for a transcribed interview."

-- Emmet Flood has temporarily taken over as White House counsel following Don McGahn’s departure. John Wagner reports: “White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the move Thursday. … Flood will serve in the position until McGahn’s permanent replacement, veteran Washington lawyer Pat Cipollone, comes on board, Sanders said.”

-- “A Conservative Group’s Closed-Door ‘Training’ of Judicial Clerks Draws Concern,” by the New York Times’s Adam Liptak: “The closed-door 'training academy' was aimed at a select group: recent law school graduates who had secured prestigious clerkships with federal judges. It was organized by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative group that has played a leading role in moving the courts to the right, and it had some unusual requirements. 'Generous donors,' the application [said], were making 'a significant financial investment in each . . . attendee.' In exchange, the future law clerks would be required to promise to keep the program’s teaching materials secret and pledge not to use what they learned 'for any purpose contrary to the mission or interest of the Heritage Foundation.'”

THE MIDTERMS:

-- George W. Bush, in stealth mode, has played an active role fundraising for Republican candidates this cycle. Paul Kane reports: “The former president is the guest of honor at a Scottsdale fundraising reception for [Arizona Rep. Martha McSally’s] bid to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R). On Monday, Bush flew to Indiana for a fundraiser with the Republican Senate nominee, Mike Braun. And in mid-September, Bush crisscrossed Florida for a lunch fundraiser in Tampa and then an evening dinner reception in Palm Beach to boost Gov. Rick Scott’s Senate campaign. He has also hosted events in Texas for other Republican candidates. At a time when Trump rules the Republican Party, practically choosing winners and losers through his endorsements in the primaries, Bush is in high demand on the campaign trail.”

-- Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) is ramping up his attacks on Democratic opponent Ammar Campa-Najjar, with a letter accusing him of being a "national security risk." Felicia Sonmez reports: “Signed by three retired Marine Corps generals who currently work as lobbyists, the Hunter campaign letter warns voters of a 'security alert' and states that Campa-Najjar 'has close family connections with the very jihadist groups our troops are operating against.' Campa-Najjar, a Christian, was born in San Diego and raised by his mother and her Mexican American family. [His] grandfather, who died 16 years before he was born, was a key planner of the 1972 attack on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Campa-Najjar has condemned the attack. The Campa-Najjar campaign responded by pointing out that the candidate held a security clearance from 2013 to 2017, when he worked at the White House [and the] Labor Department, whereas Hunter ‘would not be able to obtain a [clearance] today’ because of his criminal indictment.”

-- The RNC’s research team is adept at deploying attack lines against prominent Democrats — mostly recently Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) over her DNA test. Michael Scherer reports: “[The team consists of] about 60 GOP researchers, bookers and attack dogs who spend their time churning out the ammunition that conservative media and Trump supporters use daily to pummel the president’s foes. The relentless stream of carefully curated — and sometimes misleading — political hits has been throwing Democrats off message for months while steadily stoking the daily fires of conservative outrage that power Trump’s political movement. … The party operation — which includes a research shop of 15 and a 10-person war room that scans news and video streams for Democratic slip-ups — has established itself with a broad mandate that not only includes the midterm elections and the coming 2020 contest but also seeks to attack former Trump administration officials who criticize the president.”

-- Health care is dominating this election cycle’s campaign ads. From the Wesleyan Media Project: “In the period between September 18 and October 15, nearly half (45.9 percent) of airings in federal races mentioned the topic while nearly a third (30.2 percent) of gubernatorial airings did the same. Although both parties are mentioning health care, the topic is most prominent in ads supporting Democrats, appearing in 54.5 percent of pro-Democratic airings.”

-- Trump claimed in a tweet that, “All Republicans support people with pre-existing conditions.” “[I]f they don’t, they will after I speak to them. I am in total support,” Trump added. The tweet came one day after Mitch McConnell said that Republicans may reattempt to repeal Obamacare if they retain control of Congress. (Sonmez)

-- Many GOP lawmakers who voted to repeal Obamacare dozens of times are now campaigning on saving key portions of it. The LA Times’s Jennifer Haberkorn reports: “The shift reflects the growing popularity of Obamacare and Democrats’ success in using the issue to make a compelling closing argument in the midterm races. A handful of Republican lawmakers and candidates, including Costa Mesa Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Missouri Senate hopeful Josh Hawley, have filmed ads about their children’s medical conditions — the kinds of health problems that without Obamacare’s protections would make insurance coverage unaffordable. Others have made promises in videos and debates.”

-- The Montana Senate race between Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Republican Matt Rosendale has become a referendum on land and independence, Gabriel Pogrund writes. “[Rosendale, a Maryland-born real estate developer and state auditor,] doesn’t have any cattle and leases his land to other ranchers. Tester and state Democrats have used that in attacks, calling Rosendale ‘Maryland Matt’ and saying he is ‘All hat, no cattle.’ Rosendale’s former support for transferring federal lands to the state, a charged issue that featured heavily in Montana’s most recent gubernatorial election and helped pave the way for the election of Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, also became an issue. … Tester has also come under attack over issues of independence, most recently over his decision to . . . oppose [Brett Kavanaugh].”

-- Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), who was just endorsed by Trump, caught flak for comparing the struggles of jailed drug addicts to his efforts to push back against attack ads. Laura Vozzella reports: “‘You think you’re having a hard time — I got $5 million worth of negative ads going at me,’ Brat told inmates at the Chesterfield County jail on Wednesday. ‘How do you think I’m feeling? Nothing’s easy. For anybody. You think I’m a congressman. ‘Oh, life’s easy. This guys’s off having steaks . . . Baloney, I got a daughter, she’s got to deal with that crap on TV every day. It’s tough.’ ’ Moments later, he quickly acknowledged to the inmates: ‘You got it harder — I’m not dismissing that.’ But his chat drew sharp criticism from [his opponent, Abigail Spanberger]. ‘These comments are disturbing and damaging in the way that they belittle and trivialize addiction and the challenges facing those in recovery,’ Spanberger said.”

-- The vice president will campaign for Brat and two other Virginia Republicans this weekend. Vozzella reports: “Pence will talk up tax reform in Richmond on Saturday and try to give a boost to [Brat] and distillery owner Denver Riggleman … The event is separate from an afternoon campaign rally and fundraising reception that Pence will hold in downtown Richmond that day for Ryan McAdams, a Republican minister challenging Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) for a Richmond-area seat.”

-- After Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) endorsed a white-nationalist mayoral candidate in Canada, a conservative news outlet dubbed him “America’s most deplorable congressman.” Felicia Sonmez reports: “But the top three House Republicans — [Paul Ryan], Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.) — did not respond to requests for comment on King’s endorsement. The Iowa lawmaker, who has long been known for his inflammatory rhetoric on immigration and race, tweeted on Tuesday in support of Faith Goldy, a former reporter for the far-right Canadian news site the Rebel who is running in Toronto’s Oct. 22 mayoral election. … Goldy was fired from her job at the Rebel after she appeared on a podcast produced by the ­neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer during last year’s white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville.”

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- The Chinese economy is growing at its slowest rate since early 2009 during the financial crisis. Gerry Shih reports: “China’s National Bureau of Statistics said Friday that GDP rose 6.5 percent during the third quarter compared to a year prior, slightly below the 6.6 percent estimate by economists polled by Reuters. The sequential growth from the previous quarter also slowed. The Chinese growth figures, which were released along with the weakest industrial output numbers in years, came as a parade of top officials made a joint media push to boost public confidence in China’s slumping stock market … [T]he underwhelming GDP figure — combined with the poor industrial output — may deepen anxieties given that many economists don’t think the effect of the trade war has even shown up yet in Chinese data.”

-- The Trump administration said that it will merge its diplomatic mission serving Palestinians with the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem — a move likely to further strain U.S.-Palestinian relations. Ruth Eglash reports: “The head of the consulate, which traditionally dealt with Palestinian affairs, will return to Washington … Instead, Ambassador to Israel David Friedman will oversee U.S. diplomatic ties with the Palestinians. The merger is the latest step by the Trump administration that appears to downgrade its diplomatic relations with the Palestinians. … Merging the two U.S. diplomatic missions could pose further problems for Trump’s Middle East advisory team. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has made no secret of his disdain for Friedman, a former real estate lawyer who is known to have provided financial support to Israeli settlements. In a March speech, Abbas even referred to Friedman as a settler and son of a dog."

-- New research shows how Iranians masqueraded as foreign journalists on Twitter to push political messages on the platform until they were suspended. Tony Romm reports: “In August, Twitter revealed it had suspended 770 accounts — all appearing to originate in Iran, with potential ties to its government — for engaging in ‘coordinated manipulation.’ Facebook and [YouTube] similarly spotted and took down Iranian content, some of which had been linked to state-owned media, according to an analysis by FireEye … [Twitter] announced this week it would make available roughly 10 million tweets and 2 million images, live video and other content that had been created by the Iranian accounts and thousands of other, widely reported online trolls that previously had been tied to Russia.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

The secretary of state ignored a question about Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance:

A New York Times reporter noted this:

A BBC anchor commented on the White House response to Khashoggi's disappearance:

The president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund slammed comments from Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, about the U.S.-Saudi relationship:

The New York Times's opinion team shared Khashoggi's last column for The Post:

An NBC News reporter highlighted these contradictory statements from Trump:

The crowd cheered when Trump mentioned Gianforte's assault on a reporter. From a Times reporter:

The Guardian responded to Trump's comments:

A former GOP congressman tweeted this photo mocking Elizabeth Warren's DNA test:

A BuzzFeed News writer compared Chaffetz's photo to remarks from the Alaskan governor:

From a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute: 

A former acting solicitor general slammed the Heritage Foundation's “training” of judicial clerks:

A Post writer witnessed the removal of the president's name from a Manhattan condominium: 

And aTimes writer tweeted a "photo" of John Bolton and John Kelly:

GOOD READS:

-- The Harvard Crimson, “In Admissions, Harvard Favors Those Who Fund It, Internal Emails Show,” by Delano R. Franklin and Samuel W. Zwickel: “Getting into Harvard is hard. But it’s a lot less hard if your family promises to pay for a new building, according to internal emails presented in court . . . John M. Hughes, a lawyer for [the group suing Harvard] … introduced the emails in a bid to prove Harvard unfairly prefers the wealthy and well-connected. Hughes read each message aloud before grilling [Harvard’s dean of admissions and financial aid, William Fitzsimmons]. The handful of emails … hint at the College’s behind-the-scenes fondness for applicants whose admission yields certain practical perks. Hughes [also] quizzed Fitzsimmons on the ‘Dean’s Interest List,’ a special and confidential list of applicants Harvard compiles every admissions cycle. Though [Harvard] closely guards the details, applicants on that list are often related to or of interest to top donors — and court filings show list members benefit from a significantly inflated acceptance rate. In one 2013 email … former Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School [David Ellwood] thanked Fitzsimmons for his help admitting a set of students with very particular qualifications. ‘Once again you have done wonders. I am simply thrilled about the folks you were able to admit,’ Ellwood wrote … ‘[Redacted] has already committed to a building.’

-- “In tiny Bhutan, known for its pursuit of happiness, democracy brings discontent,” by Joanna Slater: “A small Himalayan nation wedged between India and China, Bhutan is famed for its isolated location, stunning scenery and devotion to the principle of ‘Gross National Happiness,’ which seeks to balance economic growth with other forms of contentment. But Bhutan’s young democracy, only a decade old, just received a heady dose of the unhappiness that comes with electoral politics. In the months leading up to Thursday’s national elections, the first in five years, politicians traded insults and made extravagant promises. Social media networks lit up with unproved allegations and fearmongering about Bhutan’s role in the world. It is enough to make some voters express a longing for the previous system — absolute monarchy under a beloved king.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“La Jolla Elementary School principal apologizes for email warning parents about a black man at Starbucks,” from the San Diego Union-Tribune: “The La Jolla Elementary School principal apologized this week for an email to parents that she says unintentionally perpetuated stereotypes about black people. The school will hold a forum . . . regarding the matter and how to 'support all families' at the school, according to Principal Donna Tripi. Last month, Tripi warned parents in an email about a man who had allegedly stared at and followed a parent’s daughter at a local Starbucks. Tripi described the man in her email as ‘an African American male about 30 years old … dressed in all black and a hooded sweatshirt.’ The email went on to give parents security tips ‘to keep your children safe,’ including calling the police ‘if you see something that doesn’t feel right.’ . . . This week, Tripi sent another email to parents apologizing for her description of the man, which was so vague that it wouldn’t help anybody in identifying the man, but included details that aligned with stereotypes about black people.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Kleenex to rebrand 'mansize' tissues after gender complaints," from ABC News: “Kleenex will re-brand its ‘Mansize’ tissues after consumers complained the name was sexist — touching off a social media conversation about what's in a name. The company behind Kleenex, Kimberly-Clark, said Thursday that the product, which is sold only in the U.K., will now be called ‘Kleenex Extra Large.’ Packages for the tissues describe them as ‘confidently strong’ and ‘comfortingly soft.’ Kimberly-Clark [said] that it in ‘no way suggests’ [those characteristics are] ‘an exclusively masculine trait …’ The tissues [have] been on shelves for 60 years … Kimberly-Clark is not the first company to run into a branding issue forced by changing social views. Among the more memorable casualties was stationery maker BiC, which ran into disparaging comments when trying to market pink and purple pens ‘for her.’ … In another example, the British grocery chain Waitrose on Thursday said it will be changing the name of its Gentleman's Smoked Chicken Caesar Roll because of complaints the name was sexist.”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump will start the day in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he will participate in a roundtable with supporters and speak at a fundraising luncheon before signing a presidential memorandum. He will then travel to the Luke Air Force Base to participate in both a defense capability tour and a defense roundtable. He will also hold a campaign rally tonight in Mesa, Ariz.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“Honestly, it’s not for everyone.” — The new tourism tagline for the state of Nebraska. (No, seriously.) (Omaha World-Herald)

 

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

-- Washingtonians should try to get outside today to enjoy the sunny weather with temperatures in the 60s. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “It may be rather frosty in spots this morning. Eventually, temperatures rise toward afternoon low-to-mid 60s. If 10-15 mph southerly breezes get going earlier than forecast, we could actually see some upper 60s. Sunshine warms us effectively! Eat lunch outside if you can. Clouds may increase later in the afternoon, but nothing major as it appears now.”

-- The Wizards lost to the Heat 113-112 in their season opener. (Candace Buckner)

­­-- Early voting in Virginia is dramatically up compared to last year. Antonio Olivo reports: “Nearly 78,000 people have completed ballots since absentee voting began Sept. 15 — more than double the number who voted early by this point last year, according to an analysis of voting data by the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project. That number is still shy of the 123,221 absentee ballots cast during the 2014 midterm elections, state data shows. But with a little less than three weeks before the Nov. 6 elections, local election officials say this year’s absentee totals are on pace to eclipse 2014 and may even approach the turnout for the presidential election of 2016, when a near-record 496,452 Virginians cast their ballots early.”

-- Members of the National Capital Region’s Transportation Planning Board approved a blueprint for the region’s transportation future. Lori Aratani reports: “By 2045, there could be an additional 1.3 million people living in the Washington region. Many will still depend on cars to get around, but a greater number will take advantage of a network of bike lanes, bus rapid transit systems and light-rail to help them get where they want to go as new developments spring up closer to public transit. That is the future laid out in [the blueprint] Visualize 2045.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Trevor Noah suggested black voters register as Republicans to avoid being purged from the rolls:

New Yorkers reacted badly to the fake news that Lincoln Center was being renamed Trump Center:

Nikki Haley made jokes about Trump and Elizabeth Warren at the Al Smith dinner:

A campaign ad from Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) was mocked for its eerie similarity to an ad from the television show “Veep.” Here are both of the ads:

Another attack ad featured Post Pinocchios that were never awarded:

And Big Bird puppeteer Caroll Spinney announced he would retire from “Sesame Street” after nearly 50 years: