“I know you’re not a bunch of CNN watchers here,” said Kobach, “but did anyone see CNN last night when I was on Anderson Cooper’s show?”
Most people in the room yelled “no,” proud that they don’t watch the network Trump loves to hate.
Kobach said it was “outrageous” that a CNN analyst had basically called him a racist. “He said that on national TV,” said Kobach. “And I said, ‘Well, are you saying that because I'm for photo I.D., I'm a racist?’ And he said yes!”
The crowd booed. “Well, that's interesting because the majority of African Americans polled also favor photo I.D.,” said Kobach. “So apparently they're racist too!”
The room broke into sustained applause. “That's the kind of environment we're in right now,” said Kobach. “The left is in that weird position where they don't have an argument left. So what they do is they just call the Republican a racist. That's what the new definition of racist is: It's a conservative that's winning an argument!”
The crowd cheered, and Kobach noted that he was excited to go on Fox News right after the event to discuss what had transpired on CNN. “Anyway, I'm going to be on Tucker Carlson tonight … So that should be fun,” he said. “It's always enjoyable talking with someone who has a very well-functioning, reasoning mind.”
Everyone laughed. “Tucker's so good,” one of the six men in the room wearing a MAGA hat yelled out.
-- Kobach, who made a national name for himself as a conservative lightning rod, is closing his campaign on his terms. He did not mention public education in his speech, even though polls show funding for schools is the No. 1 concern even among registered Republicans in Kansas. Nor did Kobach mention health care or infrastructure.
Instead, he talked about guns and criticized the moderators of all seven debates held this fall for not asking any questions about abortion. “It is actually a major issue, but not a single debate question was ever asked,” he said, suggesting something nefarious. “I wonder why. Could it be that the people of Kansas are pro-life and that the moderators did not want to expose the voters to the radical pro-choice views of my opponents? I think so. I absolutely think so!”
-- Three top GOP operatives who have won statewide races in Kansas expressed frustration on Thursday that Kobach is not following the tried-and-true formula for how to win here. He certainly still has a path to victory because this is such a red state, and independent candidate Greg Orman is an unpredictable wild card who is pulling votes from the Democrat, but they believe Kobach squandered the chance after beating the incumbent GOP governor in the August primary to focus on issues that could appeal to persuadable swing voters.
“He’s doubling down on what he knows and is comfortable with,” said one of the strategists, who is closely tracking the race. “Ballot security and immigration are great issues when you’re running for secretary of state, but for governor voters expect more. You have to graduate beyond that. They want to know what you’re going to do on issues that affect their day-to-day lives. You have to ask yourself: Is this a candidate who wants to make a point or win an election?”
“It’s all over but the shouting,” said a second GOP operative. “It’s fighting for fighting’s sake. The point of his campaign seems to be picking fights.”
Both these Republicans want Kobach to prevail. They spoke on background to be candid about why he’s struggling and because they fear his approach may cost the GOP two of the four U.S. House seats in Kansas next week.
-- Just like Trump, who is also going all-in on immigration in the homestretch before the midterms, Kobach thinks he has better instincts than the political professionals and believes his path to victory first and foremost depends on ginning up his base. “If Republicans vote in big numbers, we win a statewide election,” Kobach told the volunteers. “It’s just that simple.”
After the event, as he prepared to leave the party office for his Fox hit, I asked him why he’s throwing so much red meat. “I think all nonpresidential elections are won or lost by motivating your own voters,” Kobach replied. “I mean that's just because the size of the electorate is always smaller. That means that a campaign that motivates its people to vote is more likely to succeed in a race like this.”
Kobach suggested he’d run differently if this was a presidential year. “In a presidential election year, you have a lot of people who will have seen the presidential commercials, will be going into the polling place thinking about the president, and then they're confronted with this long ballot,” he said. “And they haven't really thought about the other ones. In that type of election cycle, you have a different objective. You're trying to get a message to people who may only be casually interested in your race, if you're below the president, which is everybody. That's why it is a slightly different tactic.”
-- The speculation among GOP elites in this state capital town is that Kobach will probably lose narrowly, and Trump will quickly appoint him to an administration job. He would be difficult to confirm, even by a Republican-controlled Senate. Just how difficult depends on the outcome of several Senate races next week. But he could also get a senior White House role that doesn’t require confirmation.
-- Kobach had breakfast on Wednesday morning at the Holiday Inn here with Steve Bannon. “We talked mainly about campaign logistics,” he said, declining to share what advice the former chief White House strategist gave him. The two have been longtime allies, and Kobach has written columns for Breitbart News.
-- Laura Kelly, Kobach’s Democratic challenger, noted that she’s been elected to the state Senate four times in a very red district because she’s willing to work across the aisle and stays focused on pocketbook issues, both qualities she says Kobach has never shown a willingness to even try. “Divisiveness vs. unity: That’s the major theme in this race and the major contrast between myself and Kris Kobach,” she said in an interview Thursday night. “Most people in Kansas really are very pragmatic and common sense and moderate. … That’s what they miss here. … I think Kansans are ready to be brought back together.”
Kelly was pleased when I told her that a GOP operative I’d just spoken with had complimented her message discipline. She name-drops the unpopular former Republican governor Sam Brownback, who resigned in January to become an ambassador, and pivots to public education every chance she gets. “I was raised in a military family,” she said. “What can I say?”
-- Several prominent former elected Republicans from the establishment wing of the party have endorsed Kelly over Kobach, including three-term senator Nancy Kassebaum and two-term governor Bill Graves. Graves, 65, noted that he’s the only Kansas secretary of state ever elected governor. “I’m hoping that’s a trend that will continue,” he quipped. He complained that Kobach politicized what should be the nonpartisan administration of elections. “Kris used it as a platform for his personal agenda,” said Graves. “There’s a certain taint to the office now.”
Graves said what worries him most, though, are the massive tax cuts Kobach is promising, which he is confident will create fiscal disaster for the state and force deeper cuts to popular programs that have already suffered. “K-12 and higher ed are on financial life support already, as it is,” said Graves. “The highway trust fund is essentially insolvent. The bond rating has been downgraded.”
The former governor, who served from 1995 to 2003, believes Kobach has a high floor of support, but a low ceiling. “I’ve felt all along that the minimum support and the max support he’ll get were numbers that were pretty close together,” he said.
-- On the stump, Kobach often sounds less like he’s running for governor and more like he’s seeking a Senate seat as he promises to be a champion for the Trump agenda. For instance, last night, he celebrated the president’s announcement that he’ll issue an executive order to challenge birthright citizenship. Since he began advising Trump on immigration policy in February 2016, Kobach said he’s spoken with him “on multiple occasions” about the issue. But he demurred when asked if he put the idea in the president’s head. “I wish I could claim that idea, but that position has been around for decades,” he said. The Yale Law grad said he disagrees with many legal experts on the right and left who believe that what Trump wants to do would violate the 14th Amendment.
-- Kobach is expected to fare especially poorly in the suburbs of Kansas City, so he’s trying to run up the score in rural areas where Trump excelled. Wearing blue jeans and cowboy boots, he warned people in Topeka that they need to work hard to match the liberal energy from there. Kobach said Democrats will run up their score in Lawrence, the liberal college town home to the University of Kansas; northern Johnson County, which includes the affluent town of Overland Park; and Wyandotte County, which includes Kansas City proper. The K.C. suburbs are a lot like every other suburban area in the country. Voter modeling continues to suggest that college-educated white women will turn out at higher levels than usual and that they’re breaking toward Democrats. Kobach’s message may energize the Democratic base as much as it does his own.
“They are racking up their numbers, and the way we win is we rack up our numbers and we get our Republicans out to vote,” he emphasized. “The blue wave is not going to be a blue wave in Kansas. It appears to be a little blue ripple with a red counterwave coming at it.”
-- As Kobach gaggled with reporters at the state GOP headquarters last night, Associated Press reporter John Hanna, who has been based in Topeka for the wire service since 1987, made an observation. “In 30 years of covering Kansas politics, I don't think I've heard a candidate described by his opponents as as dangerous as you,” he said.
“No, I mean seriously,” Hanna replied. “There is some mildly apocalyptic rhetoric out there about what happens to Kansas if you get elected. It started months ago … in a way that I didn't see it with other Republican nominees.”
Kobach said it’s a reflection of two factors: “One is the general rhetorical tone of this year's elections not only in Kansas, but nationally. It's a pretty heated tone. The other is that Democrats have learned that I mean business. I came into office 2011 and said, 'Okay, I promised photo I.D. Here's my bill. Boom. Here's the proof of citizenship bill and I'm going to push for it.’ They said, 'Wow, love Kobach or hate him, he's going to do what he says he's going to do.’ I think they are worrying that I really will cut taxes, they are worried that we really will continue to make Kansas more gun friendly and we really will push for pro-life legislation.”
-- It’s worth noting that the Republican activists who came to see Kobach in Topeka were juiced by his message. Dana Webber of Osage County, who is retired but still helps out at a local school, brought her 99-year-old father, who was part of the invasion force that landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day. She thinks the caravan coming from Honduras offers a powerful visual that will wake voters up to what she sees as an invasion at the southern border. “I believe it has been organized and orchestrated,” she said, praising Trump for deploying troops to stop the group. “One of the number one things the president is supposed to do is keep the country safe. How could he not?” I asked if she feels personally safe. “I do,” she said, “but that’s only because I also carry.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- The U.S. economy added 250,000 jobs last month, keeping the unemployment rate steady at 3.7 percent. Danielle Paquette reports: “The latest job market snapshot from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is the last before the midterm elections, and it arrived three weeks after Hurricane Michael pummeled the Florida panhandle and Georgia, knocking some people temporarily out of work. … Average hourly earnings rose by 3.1 percent over the year that ended in October, the first time in nearly a decade that annual wage growth broke 3 percent. The country now has 7.1 million openings, a record high, the Labor Department announced Tuesday. Companies are under pressure to offer higher paychecks at a time when there are more jobs vacant than applicants to fill them, said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor, a jobs site.”
GET SMART FAST:
The VA’s medical research program is moving ahead with plans to conduct invasive and ultimately fatal experiments on dogs. The proposed procedures were fiercely criticized by some veterans’ groups, but researchers say they could eventually help former service members who suffer from spinal cord or breathing problems. (USA Today)
The state of Tennessee executed Edmund Zagorski by electric chair. The convicted murderer was the second person this year to be executed in Tennessee and the first to die by electric chair since 2007. His final words were, “Let's rock.” (Tennessean)
Smartphone battery life appears to be declining with newer models. The lithium-ion batteries used in smartphones can’t keep up with the increasing power consumption demands posed by high-resolution screens, more complicated apps and our growing reliance on the devices. (Geoffrey A. Fowler)
Only two-thirds of Americans say they are likely to fill out the 2020 Census form, according to a new study. In 2008, 86 percent of respondents said they were likely to fill out the form. But a researcher warned differences in how the surveys were conducted may prevent direct comparisons. (Scott Clement and Tara Bahrampour)
Thousands of Google employees walked off the job to protest the company’s handling of sexual misconduct claims. The walkout affected offices around the world, stretching from Silicon Valley to Dublin. (Taylor Telford and Elizabeth Dwoskin)
The death of Danye Jones, the son of Ferguson protester and activist Melissa McKinnies, is being investigated as a suicide, but his mother says he was lynched. Police in St. Louis say there were no signs of foul play, but McKinnies insists her son was upbeat and not suicidal. The official cause of death will be determined by toxicology tests. (Antonia Noori Farzan)
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman disclosed that he has skin cancer. The former presidential candidate said he was diagnosed with Stage 1 melanoma this summer. “We’ll probably get it taken care of, and we’ll be fine,” he told the Deseret News. (Lindsey Bever)
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN AND WOMEN:
-- Trump has asked for more details about the Montana land deal involving Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that is now under scrutiny by the Justice Department. Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey and Lisa Rein report: “Trump told his aides that he is afraid Zinke has broken rules while serving as the interior secretary and is concerned about the Justice Department referral, according to [two] officials … But the president has not indicated whether he will fire the former Navy SEAL and congressman and has asked for more information, the officials said. … [T]he shift within the West Wing highlights the extent to which the interior secretary’s standing has slipped in recent months. … White House officials’ trust in [Zinke] began eroding at the start of the year, after he traveled to Florida to meet with Gov. Rick Scott (R) and announced that he would exempt the state from the administration’s new plan to allow drilling off the state’s coasts. The move, which was not coordinated with the West Wing’s political shop, exposed the five-year leasing plan to legal challenges and sparked pushback from governors in other states.”
-- Trump is expected to nominate State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert as U.N. ambassador. The Wall Street Journal’s Michael C. Bender and Courtney McBride report: “Ms. Nauert, a former Fox News correspondent, joined the Trump administration last year. … Ms. Nauert has no prior diplomatic experience.”
-- Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said he thinks the federal minimum wage is a “terrible idea" and would get rid of it if he could. Jeff Stein reports: “[Kudlow] said that he would oppose any attempt to work with Democrats in Congress to lift the federal minimum wage should the party take back the House or Senate. … ‘Idaho is different than New York. Alabama is different than Nebraska. That’s why the federal minimum wage doesn’t work for me,’ Kudlow said. Kudlow appeared to also oppose minimum wages at the state and local levels, citing conservative arguments that it constrains business growth by adding to their costs. But he said the federal government shouldn’t interfere.”
-- In swing districts where Trump’s presence is not welcome on the campaign trail, some of his Cabinet secretaries are helping to fill the void. Lisa Rein and Christine Loman report: “From June 1 through Oct. 25, Cabinet members made more than 40 visits to GOP House districts and staged appearances with a handful of swing-state senators and candidates for governor, an analysis of their Twitter feeds and those of the lawmakers shows. The stops represent the majority of their official appearances with lawmakers outside Washington this campaign season, the analysis shows. Those logging the most miles are [Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue], [HUD Secretary Ben Carson], [Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao], Energy Secretary Rick Perry, acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler and ... Zinke.”
TRUMP’S CLOSING ARGUMENT:
-- The president is trying to capitalize on racial divisions in a major gamble that fear will drive Republican voters to the polls on Tuesday. Philip Rucker and Felicia Sonmez report: “On Thursday, Trump ratcheted up the anti-immigrant rhetoric that has been the centerpiece of his midterm push by portraying a slow-moving migrant caravan, consisting mostly of families traveling on foot through Mexico, as a dangerous ‘invasion’ and suggesting that if any migrants throw rocks they could be shot by the troops that he has deployed at the border. The president also vowed to take action next week to construct ‘massive tent cities’ aimed at holding migrants indefinitely and making it more difficult for them to remain in the country. ‘If you don’t want America to be overrun by masses of illegal aliens and giant caravans, you better vote Republican,’ Trump said at a rally [in Columbia, Mo.,] Thursday evening. …
“Trump questioned again at Thursday night’s rally whether it was really ‘just by accident’ that the caravans were forming. ‘Somebody was involved, not on our side of the ledger,’ Trump told the crowd. ‘Somebody was involved, and then somebody else told him, ‘You made a big mistake.’ ’ He also called birthright citizenship a ‘crazy, lunatic policy,’ warning that it could allow people such as ‘a dictator who we hate and who’s against us’ to have a baby on American soil, and ‘congratulations, your son or daughter is now an American citizen.’”
- The Nigerian Army pointed to Trump’s comments about troops potentially shooting migrants to defend its own troops, who shot at protesters this week. The army tweeted a video of Trump’s comments with the caption, “Please Watch and Make your Deductions.” Amnesty International has estimated that more than 40 Nigerian protesters died in the violence. (AfricaNews)
-- But Trump offered few specifics on ending what he calls “abuse” of the U.S. asylum system. David Nakamura and Nick Miroff report: “The president offered no legal rationale for his plan, and he brushed off questions about the legality of some of the methods he suggested could be employed, such as detaining families indefinitely or refusing migrants a hearing in immigration court. Such moves would likely trigger legal challenges from civil rights groups. A lawsuit filed Thursday in D.C. federal court, on behalf of six Honduran citizens, argues that the president’s response to the caravan violates the rights of asylum seekers by aiming to block them from entry, or else indefinitely detaining them under unsuitable conditions should they arrive. …
“Attorneys at the White House, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice have struggled in recent weeks to make the president’s sweeping demands to suspend humanitarian protections comport with U.S. laws that protect the right to seek refuge on U.S. soil, regardless of how an asylum seeker arrives. … In a sign that the administration is moving to carry out Trump’s orders, DHS has asked the Pentagon to provide up to 8,000 family detention beds at two sites, an administration official confirmed to The Washington Post on Thursday.”
-- Trump said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if billionaire philanthropist and liberal donor George Soros was funding the caravan. John Wagner reports: “As he left the White House, Trump was asked whether he thinks somebody is funding the migrant caravan … ‘I wouldn’t be surprised, yeah. I wouldn’t be surprised,’ Trump responded. Asked whether the funder could be Soros, Trump said: ‘I don’t know who, but I wouldn’t be surprised. A lot of people say yes.’ Trump’s comments came in the wake of Soros being targeted with a pipe bomb last week and the fatal shootings this weekend at Pittsburgh synagogue by a suspect who posted frequently about the migrant caravan.”
-- Trump also blamed the mail bomb and synagogue shooting suspects for impeding the “incredible” momentum Republicans had going into the midterms. “We did have two maniacs stop a momentum that was incredible, because for seven days nobody talked about the elections,” Trump said in Missouri. “It stopped a tremendous momentum.” (CNN)
-- Trump’s ad linking Mexican immigrant and convicted murderer Luis Bracamontes to Democrats, which was widely denounced as racist, was based on a falsehood. Eli Rosenberg reports: “‘Democrats let him into our country,’ the ad’s script reads. ‘Democrats let him stay.’ … [But] Bracamontes, who had been deported multiple times before his crime rampage, appears to have last entered the country while George W. Bush was president, sometime between May 2001 and February 2002, when there is a record for his marriage in Arizona, according to the Sacramento Bee.”
-- Trump’s rhetoric on immigration appears to be driving away suburban voters many vulnerable House Republicans are depending on to win reelection and keep the House majority. The New York Times’s Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns report: “Tuesday’s House election may turn on an equally significant and opposite force: a generational break with the Republican Party among educated, wealthier whites — especially women — who like the party’s pro-business policies but recoil from [Trump’s] divisive language on race and gender. … In Republican-leaning districts that include diverse populations or abut cities that do — from bulwarks of Sunbelt conservatism like Houston and Orange County, Calif., to the well-manicured bedroom communities outside Philadelphia and Minneapolis — the party is in danger of losing its House majority next week because Mr. Trump’s racially-tinged nationalism has alienated these voters who once made up a dependable constituency.”
MORE ON THE MIDTERMS:
To better understand the vast impact women have had on this election cycle, Mary Jordan and Dan Balz spoke to 12 women in the suburbs of Atlanta and Denver. Here are a few of their portraits:
- “Crystal Murillo remembers vividly her reaction to the 2016 election. ‘I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,’ she said. ‘I just didn’t see myself represented at all.’ She was angry and frustrated. Then she got to work. Murillo decided to run for the Aurora City Council in suburban Denver. On its face, it was an audacious decision. She’s the daughter of Mexican immigrants, and her family is not politically active or wealthy. … On the night of the election, one year after Trump’s victory, Murillo became one of three progressive female candidates elected to the council, and by far the youngest.”
- “In early 2015, Dede Laugesen attended the annual Conservative Political Action Conference with her husband in the Washington suburbs. After Trump spoke, she walked to the press area in the back of the room, where her husband, the editorial page editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette, was sitting. ‘I said I think it’s Donald Trump,’ Laugesen recalled. ‘He patted my shoulder and he said, ‘Oh honey, he’s not even going to run.’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s a shame, because I really think that he is the guy who could win.’"
- “After crying in her pajamas the night Trump was elected, [Jasmine] Clark helped organize Atlanta’s March for Science, which drew thousands to protest Trump’s refusal to address climate change. She fretted over the time a political race would mean for a working mom, but announced her candidacy because, ‘I am a woman, I am black and I am a scientist, and I felt that since Trump got elected, all of these parts of my identify were under attack.’”
- “Many women — Republicans and Democrats — interviewed over the past three months say they have cut back or stopped watching CNN, FOX and MSNBC because it was stressing them out. [Carol] Gantt said it was making her depressed. Others said since Trump’s election they were drinking too much alcohol and overeating, packing on the ‘Trump 15.’”
-- Latino activists say both parties have once again neglected to engage their community for voter registration and turnout. Jenna Johnson reports: “Latinos have long voted at lower rates than whites and African Americans. Only 45 percent of Latinos who are eligible to vote turned out in 2016, compared to 65 percent of whites and 60 percent of blacks. … To increase those percentages, activists say campaigns need to do more than run ads in Spanish or host rallies in towns with large Latino populations — they need to hire field staffers who can build relationships in Latino communities, canvass homes beyond those of already-registered voters and guide new voters through the sometimes daunting registration and voting process.” One Latino voter in Texas, the site of a toss-up Senate race, said his first interaction with a campaign came 10 days before the election and after the deadline to register.
-- Democratic congressional candidates have remained laser-focused on health care in their quests to unseat Republican incumbents. Erica Werner and David Weigel report: “Democrats’ eagerness to talk about it represents a striking turnaround from the past several election cycles, when Republicans attacked them relentlessly and effectively for passing the Affordable Care Act and vowed to repeal it. Now Democrats are on the attack, and [Republicans] are on defense, forced to explain their multiple Obamacare repeal votes and insist they truly do want to protect people with preexisting conditions. Democratic leaders have instructed candidates repeatedly to press their advantage on health care and not get drawn into chasing the latest Trump controversy[.]”
-- Triage time: The super PAC aligned with Mitch McConnell is no longer running ads in the West Virginia Senate race. Sean Sullivan reports: “[The Senate Leadership Fund], which had invested $7 million since Labor Day, concluded its commercials this week. The super PAC … is making a more modest $150,000 investment in get-out-the-vote efforts and digital advertising this week, [a spokesman] said ... While the group did not place any reservations for airtime, the choice not to invest in more television ads at the end of the race highlights the GOP’s dwindling confidence in its ability to defeat Sen. Joe Manchin III[.]”
-- Manchin’s office said his social media accounts were hacked. Sullivan reports: “Manchin’s office issued a brief statement saying the senator ‘was notified that social media accounts associated with his official office had been hacked.’ The accounts ‘have since been secured,’ the statement added, and Manchin and his staff are working with law enforcement to prevent further breaches and secure all their accounts.”
-- Arizona’s Green Party Senate candidate dropped out of the race and endorsed Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. Brahm Resnik reports for NBC’s Phoenix affiliate KPNX: “The decision, just five days before the election, could remove a potential obstacle for Sinema in her toss-up race against Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally. The Green Party candidate, political newcomer Angela Green, has garnered up to 6 percent of the vote in recent polls. Polling averages show McSally and Sinema separated by a point or two. … An estimated 60 percent of all votes in Arizona's 2018 mid-term election have already been cast via mail-in ballot. Green's name will remain on the ballot.”
-- Mysterious mailers bashing Republican Senate candidates have raised complaints of illegal politicking. The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay reports: “A pair of recent mailers sent to voters in Montana targets Republican Senate candidate Matt Rosendale. ‘If Matt Rosendale gets his way, Montanans will have government drones and patrols hovering outside our windows, keeping an eye on our private lives,’ one of the glossy postcards warns. It offers words of support for Rick Breckenridge, the Libertarian candidate who on Wednesday threw his support behind Rosendale’s candidacy. That mail piece, and another one hitting Rosendale on trade policy, contain no ‘paid for by’ disclaimers as required of any political committee sending such mailers.” But the Rosendale campaign accused the company Allied Printing Resources, which has done work on behalf of Democratic candidates, of being behind the mailers.
-- Utah Senate candidate Mitt Romney spoke out against Trump’s use of the term “enemy of the people” to describe the media. John Wagner reports: “In a blog post on his campaign website, Romney wrote that ‘denigrating the media diminishes an institution that is critical to democracy, both here and abroad.’ ‘As a political tactic, it may be brilliant, but it comes with a large cost to the cause of freedom,’ he said in the piece, in which he concluded that the media is ‘very much our friend.’”
-- The Congressional Black Caucus wants one of its members to be House speaker or majority leader if Democrats win control of the chamber and shake up their leadership team. Mike DeBonis reports: “That declaration, delivered in a letter from Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.), added a fresh layer of intrigue to an unsettled House leadership picture. With independent political forecasters predicting Democrats as prohibitive favorites to win back the House majority, lawmakers are jockeying for position — even as the top three party leaders have made it clear that they intend to keep serving.”
-- Nancy Pelosi is trying to convince Democratic candidates who have distanced themselves from her to support her speakership bid if they retake the House. Politico’s Rachael Bade and Elena Schneider report: “The California Democrat’s efforts — from nudging her donors toward candidates, to appearing at private fundraisers for House hopefuls who can't be seen with her publicly — are focused on the Democrats in competitive races who are most likely to win. While it’s too early to say whether she would have the 218 votes to claim the speaker's gavel should her party claim House majority, Pelosi has clearly made inroads.”
-- Without any statewide officeholders to help them rally voters, Republican candidates in Virginia are having to largely stand on their own. Jenna Portnoy and Laura Vozzella report: “Sen. Tim Kaine on Thursday kicked off a four-day swing through the state, picking up current and former statewide Virginia Democrats – including former Gov. Terry McAuliffe – along the way in the final push before Election Day.It culminates in a rally with a rock band. … [But] Republicans, lacking a popular party standardbearer — past or present — are taking an every-candidate-for-themselves approach in the final days, and importing national figures like House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.)”
-- The #MeToo movement has sparked renewed debate over Bill Clinton’s past conduct – and left him unwanted on the campaign trail. The New York Times’s Lisa Lerer reports: “Just days before the midterm elections, Mr. Clinton finds himself in a kind of political purgatory, unable to overcome past personal and policy choices now considered anathema within the rising liberal wing of his party. The former president, once such a popular political draw that he was nicknamed his party’s ‘explainer-in-chief,’ has only appeared at a handful of private fund-raisers to benefit midterm candidates, according to people close to him.”
-- The opponent of Alaska Rep. Don Young (R), who has been in Congress since 1973, is arguing its time for a changing of the guard. Anchorage Press’s Tim Bradner reports: “Young says he’s not ready to head out to pasture, and that the state faces too many problems that his seniority (he is now the longest-serving U.S. representative) can help solve. [Alyse] Galvin disagrees. An Anchorage businesswoman and education activist, she has mounted a spirited campaign to put an end to Young’s run, and she is raising more money from supporters than the veteran congressman, most of it in small contributions. It may be close vote between the two on Nov. 6[.]”
-- Young voters are surpassing their early voting turnout levels from 2014 in a staggering way. The Hill’s Reid Wilson reports: “In Texas, 332,000 voters under the age of 30 have cast ballots already, up nearly five fold from the 2014 midterms. In Nevada, the 25,000 young voters who have cast a ballot is also five times higher than in the same period four years ago. Georgia’s young voter turnout is four times higher than it was in 2014. In Arizona, three times as many younger voters are turning up.”
-- Georgia gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams (D) and Brian Kemp (R) blamed each other after their final debate was canceled. Vanessa Williams reports: “Kemp withdrew, citing a visit Sunday by [Trump], and [Abrams] declined to reschedule. Atlanta’s WSB-TV pulled the plug on the faceoff Wednesday night. … Misti Turnbull, news director at WSB-TV in Atlanta, said on the station’s website: ‘We regret that we had to cancel but once Secretary Kemp pulled out at the last minute, the candidates could not agree to a new time.’ The station proposed 7:30 p.m. Monday for the rescheduled debate. Kemp accepted that time, but Abrams rejected it, citing previous engagements.”
-- Oprah Winfrey rallied support for Abrams and clarified she was not “trying to test any waters” for 2020. Felicia Sonmez reports: “‘I don’t want to run, okay? I’m not trying to test any waters,’ Winfrey told the crowd in Marietta, Ga., prompting applause and some cheers of encouragement. ‘Don’t want to go in those waters. I’m here today because of Stacey Abrams.’ She praised Abrams as a leader who ‘will serve the underserved of the state of Georgia.’ The rally was the first of two the media magnate is holding for Abrams on Thursday[.]”
-- Abrams’s candidacy has been strongly supported by black women in Georgia, who are enthusiastic about the prospect of electing the nation’s first black female governor. Vanessa Williams reports: “Black women in Georgia have been busy in their neighborhoods, hosting events to register and rally voters. During the primary, groups of black women from across the country descended on Georgia to help with get-out-the-vote efforts. Another influx of volunteers is expected in the next several days. Christina Greer, a political-science professor at Fordham University, said that after keeping faith with the Democratic Party for so long, ‘black women feel like our time has come and our just due is well overdue.’”
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- A newly uncovered email shows how Roger Stone presented himself to Trump campaign officials as a pipeline to WikiLeaks. The New York Times’s Sharon LaFraniere, Michael S. Schmidt, Maggie Haberman and Danny Hakim report: “When the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, appeared on a video link from Europe a month before the 2016 presidential election and vaguely promised to release a flood of purloined documents related to the race, the head of Donald J. Trump’s campaign, Stephen K. Bannon, was interested. He emailed [Stone], who had been trying to reach him for days about what Mr. Assange might have in store. ‘What was that this morning???’ Mr. Bannon asked on Oct. 4. ‘A load every week going forward,’ Mr. Stone replied, echoing Mr. Assange’s public vow to publish documents on a weekly basis until the Nov. 8 election. …
“The email exchange … underscores how Mr. Stone presented himself to Trump campaign officials: as a conduit of inside information from WikiLeaks, Russia’s chosen repository for documents hacked from Democratic computers. Mr. Bannon and two other former senior campaign officials have detailed to prosecutors for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, how Mr. Stone created that impression, according to people familiar with their accounts. One of them told investigators that Mr. Stone not only seemed to predict WikiLeaks’ actions, but that he also took credit afterward for the timing of its disclosures that damaged Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. … Whether Mr. Stone was, in fact, a trusted intermediary to WikiLeaks — or simply a master of puffery that made him appear so — remains a paramount question for Mr. Mueller’s investigators.”
-- The email to Bannon appears to contradict Stone’s statement to The Post earlier this week that he never discussed WikiLeaks with Trump campaign officials. Rosalind S. Helderman and Manuel Roig-Franzia report: “‘There are no such communications, and if Bannon says there are he would be dissembling,’ Stone [had told The Post] … On Thursday, Stone told The Post that he ‘was unaware of this email exchange until it was leaked.’ ‘We had not turned it up in our search,’ he added. ‘We can find no others to campaign officials.’”
-- A news conference meant to publicize alleged sexual misconduct accusations against Mueller — which the special counsel’s office says were fabricated to discredit him — fell apart. The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer reports: “Throughout their 45-minute press conference, [Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman and right-wing Twitter personality Jacob Wohl] repeatedly contradicted themselves and each other, giving cryptic non-answers that convinced approximately zero people in attendance that their allegations were anywhere close to the truth. … After initially promising that the accuser, a fashion designer named Carolyne Cass, would appear alongside them, Burkman and Wohl seemed to change their minds by the time reporters assembled inside the dimly lit Holiday Inn in Rosslyn, Virginia. Cass had ‘panicked,’ they said, after arriving in Washington and quickly took another flight to an unnamed location. Without an in-person accuser, Wohl and Burkman instead offered a signed affidavit from her that claimed Mueller raped her in a New York hotel room on Aug. 2, 2010. No other evidence was given[.]”
-- Synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers pleaded not guilty to the dozens of charges he faces. Moriah Balingit and Mark Berman report: “Bowers appeared with Michael J. Novara, his public defender, before Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell. Unlike a court appearance in front of Mitchell on Monday, when Bowers was seated in a wheelchair, he walked into this hearing, his hands shackled and a chain hanging off his waist. Bowers was hospitalized for two days after the shooting after being shot multiple times, but he has since been released and is in federal custody. … In court documents, officials estimated Bowers’s eventual trial could last between three and four weeks. A status conference in the case was scheduled for Dec. 11.”
-- Those who knew Bowers struggled to recall any kind of lasting impression. William Wan, Annie Gowen and Tim Craig report: “Neighbors rarely saw more than his parked car, occasionally warming his engine on a cold day. To police, he was an unremarkable collection of traffic violations and minor run-ins. High school classmates couldn’t even recall seeing him in the halls.”
-- The funerals for the shooting victims will conclude today, after nine services were held for 11 people in four days, Kayla Epstein reports.
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- The Saudi crown prince described Jamal Khashoggi as a dangerous Islamist in a White House phone call shortly after the slain journalist’s disappearance. John Hudson, Souad Mekhennet and Carol D. Leonnig report: “In the call, which occurred before the kingdom publicly acknowledged Khashoggi’s death, the crown prince urged [Jared Kushner and national security adviser John Bolton] to preserve the U.S.-Saudi alliance and said the journalist was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group long opposed by Bolton and other senior Trump officials. The attempt to criticize Khashoggi in private stands in contrast to the Saudi government’s later public statements decrying his death as a ‘terrible mistake’ and ‘terrible tragedy.’ … Khashoggi’s family called the characterization of the columnist as a dangerous Islamist inaccurate. … A Saudi official denied Wednesday that the crown prince made the allegations[.]”
-- Several of Trump’s evangelical advisers met with the crown prince. Michelle Boorstein reports: “In a statement that included smiling photos, the group said ‘it is our desire to lift up the name of Jesus whenever we are asked and wherever we go.’ … [White evangelicals] have met in recent months with other Middle Eastern leaders whom they see as allies in pressuring Iran. The evangelical leaders believe they will gain more tolerance for Christian minorities in their diplomatic efforts.”
-- Those in rural Saudi Arabia appear to have rejected the possibility that the crown prince was involved in Khashoggi’s death. Kevin Sullivan reports: “[P]eople interviewed at al-Diyrra market [in Ad Dilam] said the incident was tragic but distant from their daily lives. Most said they were aware of it, although at least one person said he had not heard about it. Every person interviewed said he refused to believe Mohammed was involved.”
-- In 2013, the CIA suffered a “catastrophic” compromise of the covert system it used to interact with informants. Yahoo News’s Zach Dorfman and Jenna McLaughlin report: “From around 2009 to 2013, the U.S. intelligence community experienced crippling intelligence failures related to the secret internet-based communications system, a key means for remote messaging between CIA officers and their sources on the ground worldwide. The previously unreported global problem originated in Iran and spiderwebbed to other countries, and was left unrepaired — despite warnings about what was happening — until more than two dozen sources died in China in 2011 and 2012 as a result, according to 11 former intelligence and national security officials. The disaster ensnared every corner of the national security bureaucracy — from multiple intelligence agencies, congressional intelligence committees and independent contractors to internal government watchdogs — forcing a slow-moving, complex government machine to grapple with the deadly dangers of emerging technologies.”
-- Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping said they were making progress toward their planned meeting at the G-20 summit later this month. Gerry Shih reports: “Trump and [Xi] both described their phone call in optimistic terms on Thursday, with Xi in particular emphasizing the leaders’ personal relationship even as branches of the U.S. government unveiled tougher measures and rhetoric against Beijing. Trump said in a morning tweet that he had a ‘long and very good conversation’ with Xi that touched on trade.”
-- DOJ unsealed charges against several individuals and Chinese and Taiwanese companies for trade-secret theft as it announced a new initiative to combat economic espionage. Ellen Nakashima reports: “The initiative is significant in that it fuses ongoing efforts within the FBI, Justice Department and other federal agencies into a single coordinated initiative, and sends a clear message to Beijing that Chinese economic espionage — whether by cyber or human means — will not be tolerated, officials said.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette honored the victims of the synagogue shooting:
A former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff appeared to criticize the deployment of additional troops to the southern border:
A Post reporter provided this context:
A Republican senator condemned a Trump campaign Web video:
From a New York Times reporter:
Another Times reporter noted the use of the word “racist” to describe the ad:
But Fox News host Laura Ingraham encouraged everyone to watch the ad:
From the editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight:
The president of a pro-immigration group highlighted a false statistic Trump shared:
From a Post reporter:
Jeb Bush's former communications director mocked Trump for calling a Colorado gubernatorial candidate weak on borders:
He added this:
A Cook Political Report editor analyzed the trends of Trump's approval rating:
A Post reporter analyzed the latest development in Arizona's Senate race:
Columnist Connie Schultz, who is married to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), drew attention to buzz surrounding a potential 2020 bid:
A former president cast his vote for the midterms:
And a former first lady applauded the little girl who dressed like her for Halloween:
-- New York Times, “‘God Is Going to Have to Forgive Me’: Young Evangelicals Speak Out,” by Elizabeth Dias: “Young evangelicals are questioning the typical ties between evangelicalism and Republican politics. Many said it had caused schisms within their families. And many described a real struggle with an administration they see as hostile to immigrants, Muslims, L.G.B.T.Q. people, and the poor. They feel it reflects a loss of humanity, which conflicts with their spiritual call. Plenty of young evangelicals believe Mr. Trump has helped to achieve their biggest goals, like curbing abortion rights and advancing religious liberties. But they are sensitive to other issues. Many feel politically independent, or politically homeless. There is a fight for what the term ‘evangelical’ even means, and they are living it. And the struggle is not just with political leaders, but also within their religious communities.”
-- “‘They’ve shifted the burden to us’: A food pantry struggles to feed an increasingly hungry Ohio community,” by Robert Samuels: “Margaret Sheskey flipped the sign for the Nelsonville Food Cupboard from ‘OPEN’ to ‘CLOSED’ and stared at the charity’s tall, empty shelves. At the beginning of the day, they were packed with free food. … For a nonprofit in an impoverished town, the day had all the makings of a success. Every family went home with food that would help them get through the next month … But Sheskey and Lafferty were already focused on a question that has increasingly come to shape the work they do: Could they find enough food before the pantry reopened? Finding food has always been a challenge, but the task is getting even tougher — a consequence of an ongoing shift in how states distribute federal grants to help the poor.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Congressman Jeff Fortenberry’s Chief Of Staff Threatens Professor For Liking Facebook Post,” from HuffPost: “Less than 130 people pressed ‘like’ on a Facebook photo of a defaced campaign sign depicting Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) with googly eyes alongside a schoolyard reimagining of his name: Jeff Fartenberry. The post wasn’t threatening, nor was the sign itself worth much more than a polite guffaw. But if ‘Fartenberry’ was juvenile, then Fortenberry’s response to the post was downright fetal. The sign was enough of a problem for the congressman’s office that his chief of staff personally reached out to and then threatened one person who pressed ‘like’ on the Facebook post depicting it. That person is Ari Kohen, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Tree of Life rabbi says he saw a ‘warm and personal side’ to Trump that surprised him,” from John Wagner: “Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said Thursday that he was ‘pleasantly surprised’ to discover a ‘warm and personal side’ to [Trump] when he visited the Pittsburgh synagogue this week following Saturday’s deadly shootings there. … ‘I was privileged to have a private 15 or 20 minutes with the family,’ Myers said [during a CNN interview]. ‘The president was very warm, very consoling, put his hand on my shoulder, and the first question he asked me was, ‘Rabbi, tell me how are you doing.’ I must say throughout the time we spent together, I was pleasantly surprised by a warm and personal side to the president that I don’t think America has ever seen.’”
Trump will host two campaign rallies in Huntington, W.Va., and Indianapolis.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“I heard Oprah’s in town today. And I heard Will Ferrell was going door-to-door the other day. Well, I’d like to remind Stacey and Oprah and Will Ferrell, I’m kind of a big deal, too.” — Vice President Pence campaigning for gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp in Georgia. (New York Times)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- The chances of showers and storms in D.C. will increase as the day goes on. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Despite clouds and increasing chances for showers as the day wears on, 10 to 20 mph southerly breezes boost our temperatures to about 70 to mid-70s by midafternoon. Afternoon showers may be accompanied by rumbles of thunder — even a strong storm is possible, with lightning and strong winds. We probably start getting full-on soaked by evening rush hour, if not slightly before.”
-- The Capitals lost to the Canadiens 6-4. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)
-- The chair of the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents resigned amid ongoing fallout from the June death of U-Md. football player Jordan McNair. Nick Anderson, Erin Cox and Rick Maese report: “[James T. Brady] informed the board of his exit during a closed meeting in Baltimore. Afterward, he acknowledged he had become ‘the public face’ of the board and its controversial decision to retain football coach DJ Durkin despite a scandal that erupted after the player’s death in June. Critics of the board said the uproar this week over that decision was damaging U-Md.'s image and imperiling fund-raising and recruiting.”
-- Metro board members are split over a costly proposal to expand service. Martine Powers reports: “At a meeting of the panel’s finance committee, some board members argued that the proposed improvements, which are estimated to cost $20 million annually, are necessary to resuscitate flagging ridership. Others worried that the enhancements would be prohibitively expensive for the jurisdictions that subsidize Metro’s annual operating costs.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) kicked a questioner out of a candidate forum after he asked about the synagogue shooting:
Seth Meyers slammed Republicans' “racist fearmongering”:
Stephen Colbert compared the vice president's campaign appearance in Georgia to Oprah Winfrey's:
Oprah Winfrey knocked on doors for Stacey Abrams:
And The Post's video team visited the Broadcom Masters, a national science competition, to talk to some of the smartest kids in the country about their projects: