THE BIG IDEA:
— The Republican candidate for governor of Kentucky favors legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. In an unusual role reversal, his Democratic opponent is attacking him for it.
Happy Monday morning from Richmond, Ky., where the governor’s race, just one week from tomorrow, is a true toss-up. I’m crisscrossing the state talking to voters and trailing the candidates. During a debate at Eastern Kentucky University last night, some of the biggest fireworks came over whether to allow medical marijuana.
“There is unequivocal medical evidence … that there are benefits for those with cancer and epilepsy,” said Republican Matt Bevin. “It should be prescribed like any other prescription drug.”
Democrat Jack Conway, running as a tough-on-crime attorney general, touted his endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police and fretted about “a lost generation” of young people to narcotics, particularly prescription pain pills.
“I don’t want to hear from some hipsters out in Hawaii saying Kentucky needs medical marijuana,” Conway said. “Because, if you have medical marijuana, there’s going to be more of it. Chances are there will be more accidents on our roads by young kids because there’s more of it. If we need it, the medical community has to come convince me. … And I haven’t heard from any of them.”
“Medical marijuana is the only medicine I can think of that would be prescribed in joints,” Conway quipped, adding that he’s supported cannabidiol oil to treat seizures. “When I’ve met addicts … it always seems like it started with marijuana at an early age.”
Bevin pushed back on the suggestion that giving “a kid with terminal brain cancer” access to medical marijuana is going to make him into a junkie or pusher. But he also defended himself, insisting that he would “never, ever” support recreational use of marijuana.
“We’re on the campus of a university,” the Republican said. Addressing the students in the audience of one thousand, he asked: “Is it not already easy for you to find this on the streets? Come on! Who are we kidding? The only people who can’t get it are the people who abide by the law!”
— One of the reasons the debate over marijuana is so interesting is that it does not cut neatly across party lines. Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, the Democratic candidate for Agriculture commissioner – a very powerful job in the Bluegrass State – is airing a TV commercial right now touting herself as “the only candidate” in the race who supports medical marijuana “to ease the suffering of cancer patients.” Her Republican rival for Agriculture commissioner opposes medical marijuana on the grounds that the state’s burgeoning industrial hemp industry is against it. “If you talk to hemp producers, the ones who are already investing in our state, they do not want to be co-mingled with its cousin,” Ryan Quarles reportedly said during a recent candidate forum.
— The back-and-forth in Kentucky underscores the extent to which pot has become a big issue in every state. The boundaries of the debate look likely to be pushed further in 2016, when the recreational use of marijuana is being put to the test in states like California and Nevada, and possibly Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont. Just next week, in their off-year election, Ohio voters will vote on Issue 3, which would legalize pot, but a measure to negate it is also on the same ballot. Look for a growing legalization push across the country, especially in states that have already lowered punishments for using it. (USA Today has a map to track where the fight is paying out here.)
— Slipping in the polls and losing some momentum, the outsider candidates of the summer are getting more aggressive.
- Conviction vs. expediency – Bernie is drawing his sharpest contrasts yet with Hillary. Dan Balz reports from the Jefferson-Jackson dinner on Sanders’ sharper edge. “Sanders (I-Vt.) never mentioned the former secretary of state by name, but his message was clear: He has been a man of conviction, prepared to upend the system; she is too often a political weather vane, too cautious and catering to the political establishment.” Four of the main issues he highlighted: the Iraq war, trade, Keystone XL and gay rights. On CNN yesterday, Sanders went further in accusing Clinton of trying to “rewrite history” on DOMA.
- Trump now raising questions about Carson’s faith: The Donald, intensifying his attacks on Ben Carson, now notes on the trail that Carson is a Seventh Day Adventist. The Presbyterian refused to apologize yesterday for bringing it up. “I would certainly give an apology if I said something bad about it. But I didn’t. All I said was I don’t know about it,” the businessman told ABC’s This Week. Trump added that he had been attacking Jeb because everyone thought the former Florida governor would be the frontrunner; then he said he is now going to talk less about Bush and more about Carson. A Quinnipiac poll last week showed the retired neurosurgeon leading him in Iowa.
- Why has Carson taken the lead in Iowa? It’s because he is both an outsider and the Anti-Trump. “Mr. Trump has derided Mr. Carson for lacking the vigor and fortitude to be president, but voters here are drawn to the retired neurosurgeon’s low-pitched manner,” Trip Gabriel writes on the front-page of today’s New York Times from Ames. “His supporters cite Mr. Carson’s character, not his positions, as the main reason they back him. And they say his low-key approach is precisely what would tame Washington’s bitter partisanship, rather than Mr. Trump’s swagger.” One woman says “his soft voice makes people very comforted.”
— Can Jeb stop the implosion? Bush majorly downsized his campaign on Friday following disappointing 3rd quarter fundraising and the high burn rate we warned you about. He announced pay cuts for his staff and slashed spending for travel and consultants, planning to focus his money on TV ads and organizing in the early states. While Jeb donors gathered in Houston this weekend, hoping to turn things around, leaders at Right to Rise, the main Bush super PAC, said the group is considering sending ground staff to key states. It’s a recognition that the campaign may not be able to do everything it planned.
— Progressives want to prod the Republicans to talk more about climate change. The Center for American Progress is using Wednesday’s GOP debate in Colorado as a peg to highlight the impact of global warming on one of the most important swing states and to try drawing out the candidates on their positions. They’re rolling out a report on the increasing damages of western wildfires and policy proposals to reduce them.
Officials of the prominent left-leaning think tank point to news that 2015 will be the hottest on record, plus the strength of Hurricane Patricia, as fodder. This past Friday, Colorado Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman also sued to try blocking the EPA Clean Power Plan, one of 24 states trying to block President Obama’s signature environmental initiative.
Tomorrow CAP’s Action Fund will host a press conference on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder to call on CNBC to press the GOP candidates on these issues. Among those scheduled to speak are the Democratic House Majority Leader and the Mayor Pro Tem of Boulder. Boulder, a liberal enclave, is aiming to become carbon neutral, which makes it an amusing site for a GOP debate.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
— Joe Biden denied that his son Beau, while dying from cancer, made a last-minute plea for him to run for president. “Beau all along thought that I should run and I could win,” Biden said in an interview with Norah O’Donnell on “60 Minutes.” “But there was not what was sort of made out as kind of this Hollywood-esque thing that at the last minute Beau grabbed my hand and said, ‘Dad, you’ve got to run, like, win one for the Gipper.’ It wasn’t anything like that.” He added that time wasn’t on his side: “I’ll be very blunt,” he said. “If I thought we could’ve put together the campaign that our supporters deserved, that our contributors deserved, I would’ve done it.” Watch the video of the interview here.
— Americans overwhelmingly blame mental health failures for mass shootings. A fresh Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that 82 percent of Americans say gun violence is a serious problem, but the public splits sharply on whether to prioritize new gun laws to deal with it. By a 63 percent to 23 percent margin, more blame mass shootings on failed mental health treatment than inadequate gun control. Americans split evenly (46-47) on prioritizing new laws aimed at gun violence or protecting gun rights. Since 2013, support for prioritizing laws aimed at gun violence over gun rights has dipped by six points, from 52 percent to 46 percent.
GET SMART FAST:
- Conservatives are not giving up on challenging Obamacare in the courts. A new lawsuit coming today says the ACA should be struck down because the Constitution requires tax-raising bills originate in the House. (AP)
- “Poland took a decisive turn to the right in its parliamentary election Sunday, tossing out the centrist party that had governed for eight years for a socially conservative and Euroskeptic party that wants to keep migrants out and spend more on Poland’s own poor,” the AP reports from Warsaw.
- Argentina will face a presidential runoff next month after the top two candidates both received 35 percent. (Guardian)
- A 7.7 magnitude earthquake that shook southern Asia this morning was centered in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush. Tremors were felt in Kabul, New Delhi, and Islamabad.
- “A whale watching boat sank in the cold waters off Canada’s Vancouver Island late Sunday afternoon, killing at least five of its 27 passengers and crew members,” per Sarah Kaplan.
POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:
- New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, in a tight reelection fight, announced her support for Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the first GOP senator to do so. (WMUR)
- Correct the Record, a pro-Hillary super PAC, is launching a $1 million effort to soften Clinton’s image by featuring people sharing stories about their friendships with her and the effect she has had on their lives, from her childhood in Chicago and college years at Wellesley through her time as first lady and secretary of state. (Philip Rucker)
- The Clinton campaign says that the hour after the Benghazi hearing ended, from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, was their best fundraising hour of the campaign and they didn’t make a fundraising ask.
— Marco “Rubio gives up on Senate,” by David A. Fahrenthold: “Marco Rubio is a U.S. senator. And he just can’t stand it anymore. … This year, as Rubio runs for president, he has cast the Senate — the very place that cemented him as a national politician — as a place he’s given up on, after less than one term. It’s too slow. Too rule-bound. So Rubio, 44, has decided not to run for his seat again. It’s the White House or bust. ‘That’s why I’m missing votes. Because I am leaving the Senate. I am not running for reelection,’ Rubio said in the last Republican debate, after Donald Trump had mocked him for his unusual number of absences during Senate votes.
- “Democrats killed his debt-cutting plans. Republicans killed his immigration reform. The two parties actually came together to kill his AGREE Act, a small-bore, hands-across-the-aisle bill that Rubio had designed just to get a win on something. Now, he’s done. ‘He hates it,’ a longtime friend from Florida said, speaking anonymously to say what Rubio would not.
- “Last week was — by Rubio’s standards — a very busy week in the Senate. On Tuesday, he cast a vote, his first in 26 days. He gave a floor speech, his first in 41 days. In the speech, he asked the Senate to pass a bill that would give Department of Veterans Affairs leaders more power to remove poor-performing employees. But it didn’t happen. … With that, he was done for the week, missing the next three votes.”
- In 2014, Rubio missed 34 of 68 committee hearings and meetings in the Foreign Relations committee, according to his office’s own tally.
Flashback to David Remnick’s excellent 2010 biography on Obama: “The truth was, David Axelrod told me, ‘Barack hated being a senator.’ … Obama could barely conceal his frustration with the torpid pace of the Senate. His aides could sense his frustration and so could his colleagues. ‘He was bored being a senator,’ one Senate aide said. ‘It’s picayune, it’s small-ball everywhere. And he is restless.’”
Rubio, acutely aware of his perceived Obama-ish-ness, defended his absences on CNN’s “State of the Union” yesterday: “When I miss a vote, it’s not because I’m out playing golf.”
— The Prince of Janesville is preparing for ascension:
- “Fuming over Ryan, some conservative voices turn on the Freedom Caucus,” by Mike DeBonis: “Things may never be the same for the Freedom Caucus after most of its members moved last week to support Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as the next House speaker. Suddenly, they may not be conservative enough for some in the party. The groundswell of support from hard-core conservative voters that emboldened the group as it battled Boehner and the GOP establishment seemed to subside for the first time in months. That has put its members in the unfamiliar position of defending their right flank … The anger over Ryan’s ascent has been fueled by voices across the conservative media landscape. On the Internet, sites such as Breitbart.com and the Drudge Report have pumped out a steady stream of anti-Ryan stories casting doubt on his record, while such prominent commentators as Erick Erickson, Ann Coulter and Mickey Kaus have sharpened their teeth and urged conservatives to contact lawmakers and tell them to spurn Ryan … A handful of House hard-liners, perhaps 10 to 15, remain proudly outside the pro-Ryan camp; most continue to back Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), a backbencher who has emphasized procedural reforms. ‘I don’t know what they’re thinking, really,” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), a Webster backer, said of the Freedom Caucus. ‘If you’ve got problems with a man today, and the man tells you, ‘Tomorrow, I’ll be a different person’ — it doesn’t happen,’ said Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.), who said he has received more than 100 calls over two days from constituents opposing Ryan.”
- David Hoppe will leave lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs to become Speaker Ryan’s chief of staff. The two struck up a friendship when Ryan worked at Jack Kemp’s Empower America. “Both are fathers of three children, both are Midwesterners [and] both have been supporters of antiabortion groups,” notes The Post’s Robert Costa. “Both consider themselves to be entrenched members of the conservative movement, rather than just Republicans.”
- Ryan has a very wide and deep network on K Street. Lobbyist friends tell PowerPost’s Catherine Ho that they do not expect the Wisconsin lawmaker to socialize at Capitol Hill bars or on the golf course — he’d rather be working out or at home with his family. But they do expect he will hear them out. They say that he engages in a serious way when lobbyists come to talk about policy. Katheryn Lehman of Holland & Knight, who met Ryan during his first House run in 1998, dubs him the “ultimate affable nerd jock.”
— “After synod on family, Pope Francis faces a tough choice,” by Anthony Faiola and Stefano Pitrelli: “After three weeks, the gathering — called a synod — had exposed a rift within the church hierarchy. Some bishops and cardinals were pressing for more inclusion for the divorced and remarried and for gay men and lesbians. But many others had pushed back, insisting that the church’s rules and moral compass could not be so easily altered. On Sunday, Francis responded by invoking the biblical story of Jesus stopping to talk to a blind man, even as his disciples walked by … Some viewed his homily as a general call for mercy at a time of natural disasters and a migrant crisis in Europe. But after his speech to the synod a day earlier in which he admonished the ‘closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the church’s teachings and good intentions,’ his homily on Sunday seemed to others to serve as a reminder to his lieutenants of a core tenet of his papacy: outreach.”
— “On Duty, Under Fire,” by Amy Brittain: There have been about 800 fatal shootings by police so far this year. “But only a small number of the shootings — roughly 5 percent — occurred under the kind of circumstances that raise doubt and draw public outcry, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. … In 74 percent of all fatal police shootings, the individuals had already fired shots, brandished a gun or attacked a person with a weapon or their bare hands, according to an analysis of actions immediately preceding the shootings. … These 595 cases include fatal shootings that followed a wide range of violent crimes, including shootouts, stabbings, hostage situations, carjackings and assaults.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ
— ZIGNAL VISUAL — Chris Christie leaving the quiet car on an Amtrak train from D.C. to New Jersey dominated the online discourse. “Perhaps Vice President Biden, Amtrak’s most traveled pol, should explain the rules of the quiet car to the New Jersey governor,” writes the Reliable Source’s Emily Heil. “The blustery Garden State leader reportedly was asked to move from the noise-free zone on a Sunday-morning train from Washington to New York. Christie, who had appeared on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation,’ was heard yelling at his security detail and talking loudly into his phone before a conductor asked him to move to an area where conversations are permitted, per a fellow rider’s account on Gawker. Another rider claims Christie’s convo wasn’t all that intrusive, though, and the Christie campaign has disputed the reported high volume.”
Here’s the statement from a Christie spokeswoman, apologizing but pushing back on the idea that he was kicked out:
This word cloud tracking all Christie mentions from the weekend shows how the train incident overshadowed everything else he did:
— Pictures of the day, Katy Perry edition:
Katy Perry sang at a rally for Hillary Clinton in Des Moines before the J-J Dinner:
Perry gave Clinton this necklace as an early birthday gift (she turns 68 today):
Even Perry’s nails were on message:
Bill Clinton warmed up the crowd for Hillary. Watch a 90-second highlight video from the AP:
— Tweets of the day:
Speaking of Clinton’s birthday, Hillary also received good wishes from Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) at a New York fundraiser (there was even a serenade from Tony Bennett):
Trump bragged about the size of his crowds:
Senate Democrats celebrated “Selfie Sunday”:
— Instagrams of the day:
The RNC’s Sean Spicer is getting excited for this week’s upcoming GOP presidential debate:
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said he heard the House was in need of a speaker:
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) celebrated the birthday of the Planetary Society with Bill Nye:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
— New Orleans Times-Picayune, “Jon Bel Edwards, David Vitter advance to runoff in governor’s race,” by Julia O’Donoghue: “State Rep. John Bel Edwards and Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter will continue their heated battle for governor in a Nov. 21 runoff after finishing 1-2 in the primary election Saturday. The Edwards-Vitter pairing was no surprise. Edwards was all but guaranteed 30 percent of the vote as the only major Democrat running; he ended up with 40 percent. Vitter was the candidate of choice for conservative Republicans, but was a distant second with 23 percent … And it is obvious that Edwards and Vitter will be going hard after each other in the runoff. In his victory speech, Edwards referred to Vitter as Nixonian and just another version of Bobby Jindal. Vitter said electing Edwards would be like electing Barack Obama as governor of Louisiana … Vitter spent much of his victory speech giving the crowd a preview of his talking points during the runoff campaign. He continued to rail against ‘Baton Rouge politicians’ — a line he has used throughout his primary campaign, much to the annoyance of Louisiana lawmakers.”
— New York Times, “Russian presence near undersea cables concerns U.S.,” by David Sanger and Eric Schmitt: “Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict … The ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West’s governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent. While there is no evidence yet of any cable cutting, the concern is part of a growing wariness among senior American and allied military and intelligence officials over the accelerated activity by the Russian armed forces around the globe … The internal debate in Washington illustrates how the United States is increasingly viewing every Russian move through a lens of deep distrust, reminiscent of the Cold War.”
— Wall Street Journal, “Jeb Bush moves between campaign and super PAC with ease,” by Beth Reinhard and Christopher S. Stewart: “Mr. Bush’s allies created the Right to Rise super PAC when he began exploring a presidential bid in January, and he headlined dozens of fundraising events in early 2015. He continued attending super PAC events after announcing his candidacy in mid-June as the group raced to meet a widely reported $100 million fundraising target at the end of that month … One week after his campaign launch in Miami, Mr. Bush attended a reception that drew about 200 people to a donor’s home in Jacksonville, Fla. Later, he and more than a dozen attendees and some campaign aides drove less than two miles to another home for a catered dinner organized by the super PAC. The campaign aides stayed in a separate room, away from the donors in the dining room, according to people who were there.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
Carson: Women who have abortions are like slaveowners. From ThinkProgress: On NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ … Ben Carson compared women who decided to have abortions to slaveowners who ‘thought that they had the right to do whatever they wanted to that slave.’ The discussion came after host Chuck Todd asked if life began at conception, to which Carson answered ‘I believe it does.'” Carson also told Chuck Todd that he’d “love” to outlaw abortion nationwide by overturning Roe v. Wade. “I’m a reasonable person and if people can come up with a reasonable explanation of why they would like to kill a baby, I’ll listen,” he said.
HOT ON THE RIGHT
The conservative establishment is sounding the alarm about a recalcitrant base. From the Weekly Standard: “Republicans are in trouble. A significant bloc regards their congressional leaders — House speaker John Boehner, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, and their underlings — as enemies. A quarter or more of grassroots Republicans think Trump should be president. And to make things worse, Hillary Clinton has a glide path to the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, making her tougher for any Republican to beat.”
–What’s happening today on the campaign trail: Donald Trump holds a town hall live on NBC’s “Today” Show.
–On the Hill: The Senate reconvenes at 3 p.m. to resume consideration of a cybersecurity bill and will vote on a judicial nomination at 5:30 p.m. The House meets at 12 p.m., with votes on a dyslexia bill expected at 6:30 p.m.
–At the White House: President Obama holds a meeting with teachers, attends a luncheon hosted by former Sens. Tom Daschle and George Mitchell, holds a bilateral meetings with President Widodo of Indonesia and meets with Secretary of State John Kerry. Vice President Biden attends an event for the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children in Wilmington, Del.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Of course, you can’t say those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015.” — Tony Blair, speaking about the rise of ISIS on CNN. He pointed out that it’s unclear what policy in the region would have been successful: “We have tried intervention and putting down troops in Iraq. We’ve tried intervention without putting in troops in Libya. And we’ve tried no intervention at all but demanding regime change in Syria.”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
— “Our recent icy dip into chillier weather was certainly a preview of November, but now we’re going to be rewarded with some nice October conditions through the middle of this week. We see a healthy advance into the 60s to near 70 today with lots of sunshine only to be surpassed by widespread 70s tomorrow as humidity stays very low,” the Capital Weather Gang reports.
— The Redskins came from 24 points behind to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-30.
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
— Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) sang “Meet the Mets” on the House floor after losing a bet to Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.).
— President Obama made the “Grumpy Cat” face while criticizing Republican politicians during a speech to the DNC on Friday. Watch the video here, via ABC.
Ben Carson’s wife, Candy, sang the national anthem at an event in Ames, Iowa:
If you missed it, here is Sanders’ speech at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner: