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The Daily 202: Is Hurricane Trump a Category One, a Category Five or something in between?

October 11, 2016 2:19 PM
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The Daily 202: Is Hurricane Trump a Category One, a Category Five or something in between?

THE BIG IDEA: The chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Greg Walden, told House members on a private conference call with Paul Ryan yesterday that navigating this election is now like “landing an airplane in a hurricane.”

Walden, a congressman from Oregon, said the ground is shifting quickly and urged members to keep conducting internal polls so that they have an accurate read of how vulnerable they might now be as the bottom falls out from under Donald Trump’s campaign. “You have to trust the instruments,” he said, expanding on the hurricane analogy.

It’s still unclear whether Hurricane Trump is a Category 1 or a Category 5, or whether he might be a Category 5 today but weaken to a Category 2 by Nov. 8 in terms of the damage he could cause.

As Walden compared their party’s nominee to a deathly storm system, NBC and the Wall Street Journal published a poll that put Hillary Clinton ahead in a four-way contest by 11 points with likely voters. She was up 5 points in their previous poll. Forty-one percent of respondents said Trump's comments on a 2005 video were "completely unacceptable." More than half disagreed with the statement that the tape was unimportant because it happened so long ago. While voters viewed Clinton more negatively than positively by 10 points in the poll, they viewed Trump more negatively than positively by 34.

Republican strategists know with certainty that there will be political casualties from Trump’s ongoing collapse. They just don’t know where or how many. Some lawmakers who think they might be in the path of the storm are evacuating. Others are taking their chances and hunkering down, boarding up the windows and buying supplies, nervous about the risks of venturing outside in the wind.

-- Calls for Trump to drop out, which came by the dozens during the 48 hours before the debate, have slowed to a trickle since Sunday night. On a conference call with the 168 members of the Republican National Committee last night, chairman Reince Priebus pledged “complete fidelity” to Trump and denied rumors that he was diverting resources to down-ballot races. Priebus is in a tough spot. He’s under fire from both sides. The Arizona GOP chairman, who wants to replace him next year, put out a statement attacking the RNC for halting the production of mailers on Trump’s behalf and being radio silent over the weekend.

-- Mike Pence also demonstrated just how willing he is to go down with the Trump Train if it derails. (Apologies for mixing so many metaphors…) He knew exactly what he was signing up for when he aggressively maneuvered to become Trump’s running-mate. He wanted to avoid losing reelection to a second term as governor in Indiana and get a leg up to run in 2020. Speaking in Charlotte, Pence called Trump a fighter who "literally embodies the spirit of America." He told the crowd: “It takes a big man to know when he’s wrong. And to admit it. And [to have] the humility to apologize. [Trump] showed that he’s a big man.”

-- Ted Cruz is also holding firm. He clearly feels he cannot afford to flip-flop once again. His brand as someone who is principled has been shattered, replaced by the image of a politician who keeps his finger in the wind. So, trying to salvage his own 2020 hopes, Cruz told a local affiliate in Texas yesterday that he stands by Donald despite the grotesque comments he made in the video. "I am supporting the Republican nominee because I think Hillary Clinton is an absolute disaster,” the senator said.

-- Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, the two most powerful Republicans in the country, continue trying to thread a delicate needle that perhaps cannot be threaded.

The Speaker of the House told his members on the conference call with Walden that he will no longer campaign for or defend Trump. BUT he went out of his way to stress that he’s not rescinding his endorsement. The 2012 vice presidential nominee told everyone to make their own personalized calculations about Trump based on the demographics and politics within their districts. At least a half-dozen members, from California to Ohio, then spoke up to challenge him for equivocating, several lawmakers on the call told various Post reporters. “He got huge pushback like I’ve never seen before from members from across the country just saying that was the wrong move — and even if it cost them the House,” said one of the members on the call. Late in the conversation, Ryan went off mute to assure his members that he will not take back his endorsement, though this offered little assurance to the pro-Trump contingent. (Philip Rucker and Robert Costa have more details.)

Back in February, as Trump was marching toward the Republican nomination, the Senate Majority Leader downplayed concerns about the risk of the reality TV star becoming his party’s standard bearer. He argued that they could fairly easily distance themselves. “We’ll drop him like a hot rock,” he reportedly told associates.

McConnell is trying hard to avoid going further than the somewhat tepid statement he released last Friday. “If you are interested in the presidential election, you might as well go ahead and leave because I don't have any observations to make about it,” the senator said at the start of a speech before a county Chamber of Commerce meeting in Kentucky yesterday afternoon. “In my job as majority leader of the Senate I've found that my observations, no matter where I make them, are immediately sort of spun around the world and I don't have anything to add on the presidential race today." He later told the crowd "not to be depressed about the future of the country." "Elections come and go, leaders come and go. You are going to be just fine," he said. (The AP’s Adam Beam has more from Danville.)

-- Rank-and-file Republicans find themselves between a rock and a hard place. The risk of alienating Trump supporters by withdrawing an endorsement is very high. New York Times reporters led by Maggie Haberman found several diehard Trump supporters in Arizona who said they will not vote for Sen. John McCain and in New Hampshire who said they won’t vote for Sen. Kelly Ayotte because they pulled their support for the nominee. It’s hard to know how many others will follow their lead.

Only 13 percent of registered GOP voters said they thought Trump should drop out of the race, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll that was in the field after the debate. But one in three registered voters (including 32 percent of independents) said they're less likely to vote for a candidate who continues to support Trump.

The Fix’s Aaron Blake is maintaining a working list of over 160 prominent Republicans who have jumped ship. It includes 36 who have called for him to step aside and 10 more who have withdrawn their support but not called on him to drop out.

The Democratic Governors Association has also been collecting the comments of all 31 sitting GOP governors about Trump on a site called GovTrumpTracker. Communications director Jared Leopold notes that nine of them, including Republican Governors Association chair Susana Martinez, have now said they will not vote for him, including seven since Friday. So have the GOP gubernatorial nominees in Oregon, Vermont, and Washington State. But their tracker highlights that, among others, the governor of North Carolina, as well as the GOP nominees in New Hampshire, Missouri and Indiana are standing with him.

Strategists involved in the battleground races say many of these politicians may change their minds if private polling begins to show the benefits of dumping Trump outweigh the costs.

A poll published this morning by The Atlantic and PRRI has Clinton up 11 points over Trump nationally, up from 6 points last week. (They were tied in this survey two weeks ago.) Clinton leads among women by 33 points in the survey, which was conducted from Wednesday to Sunday (The Post broke the story Friday afternoon). But the most remarkable data point is that Trump now garners just 28 percent of likely female voters, down from 33 percent last week. To be sure, Clinton trails among men by double digits (48-37), but that is one-third as much as Trump trails her among women.

“Even more remarkably, Trump’s support has collapsed among white women without college degrees,” The Atlantic’s David Graham notes. “Until recently, they formed Trump’s largest bloc of support. In 2004, they voted for George W. Bush by 19 points; in 2008, they backed John McCain by 17 points; and in 2012, they went with Mitt Romney by 20 points. This poll finds them evenly split between Clinton and Trump, with each drawing 40 percent support.”

Rep. Mark Amodei, the chairman of Trump’s campaign in Nevada, released a tortured, six-paragraph statement after the conference call with Ryan yesterday explaining why he is sticking with Trump. “Frankly, the harsh criticism and outrage are, in my view, appropriate and deserved,” the congressman wrote. “Many of my party have chosen to repudiate the Republican nominee. We all have an absolute right to choose a position when confronted with a tough situation. I choose not to tear my party of choice apart because Donald Trump said and did some frankly awful things in his past. It is worth noting that during some dark days in Secretary Clinton’s past, her party has closed ranks and defended their nominee … I will follow my Democrat colleagues’ example, and not cannibalize my nominee because he has said and done some regrettable things.”

The congressman ended his press release, written as an open letter, by saying that his sister and two adult daughters “are understandably skeptical” of Trump: “They are all intelligent, independent and critical thinking women. … Mr. Trump, you have your work cut out for you with them in the next 30 days to convince them that you are the leader they can be proud of. Call me and I’ll give you their phone numbers.”

-- Entertainment Tonight host Nancy O’Dell, the woman Trump was talking about on the video, said last night that “there is no room for objectification of women, or anyone for that matter … not even in the locker room.” (AP)

-- Anita Hill, who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991, calls Trump’s language “predatory and hostile” in an op-ed for today’s Boston Globe: “To excuse it as that or as youthful indiscretion or overzealous romantic interest normalizes male sexual violence,” the Brandeis University professor writes. “Trump’s remarks reflect the quintessential mindset of a harasser: the view that he has certain privileges and power by virtue of his celebrity status and position.’”

-- Multiple sources tell Page Six that Billy Bush bragged about the vulgar Trump video while at the Olympics in Rio, telling fellow NBC staffers he had a “tape of Trump being a real dog.” (His boasts prompted staffers at “Access Hollywood” to track it down.) Bush reportedly never told NBC News brass about the tape when he joined “Today” – and his remarks could violate the company’s morality clause. A review of Bush’s actions is under way, and staff are being urged to come forward “with any concerns about Bush, his inappropriate behavior or frat-boy mentality.” Women in the office were polled about how they feel about Bush at a meeting on Monday. He’s been suspended indefinitely.

-- Today’s print edition of The Post includes a full-page ad signed by more than 3,000 sexual assault survivors demanding that the GOP stop supporting Trump. It was paid for by the progressive groups UltraViolet Action and

-- A megachurch pastor on Trump’s evangelical council revoked his endorsement, calling Trump’s 2005 comments “misogynistic trash that reveals a man to be lecherous and worthless”: “Mr. Trump’s comments … are not just sophomoric or locker room banter,” Illinois pastor James MacDonald said in an email. (Sarah Pulliam Bailey)

-- A growing list of professional athletes has also condemned Trump for excusing his vulgarity by saying they were “locker room comments.”

-- And Trump’s own surrogates continue to keep digging the hole deeper.

Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, Donald’s point man on Capitol Hill, said he does not believe that the behavior Trump described would constitute sexual assault: “This was very improper language, and he's acknowledged that," Sessions told The Weekly Standard. When pressed on whether he would characterize the behavior as sexual assault if it took place in real life, he replied: "I don't characterize that as sexual assault. I think that's a stretch.” “So if you grab a woman by the genitals, that's not sexual assault?" asked the reporter. "I don't know. It's not clear that he — how that would occur," Sessions replied. (Sean Sullivan)

Molly Ball frames it well: “The 2016 campaign, which has already exposed so many of our national rifts—class, race, geography—has settled, in its final weeks, on our deepest and most animal fault line, the one that cleaves the human race in two: men versus women, the old-fashioned battle of the sexes. And isn't it fitting? On the one hand, it might be a rich irony that America's first woman to head a major-party ticket finds herself running against the cartoon of masculinity, the parody of machismo, that is Trump. On the other hand, it might not be a coincidence at all.”

In last month’s NBC/WSJ poll, Democrats had a three-point advantage in a generic congressional ballot. Their advantage is seven points in their new poll. But the map remains very hard for Democrats, partly because of redistricting, and some Republicans may benefit from repudiating Trump.

-- Top Democratic strategists are moving to capitalize and believe Trump’s behavior has given them a real shot at retaking the majority, Kelsey Snell and Karoun Demirjian report: “They have their eyes on the 26 Republican House districts that Obama won in 2012 and an additional 23 where he came close to winning.” (They need to pick up 30 seats.)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said its private polling — conducted nationwide by the Global Strategy Group — shows a generic Democratic candidate has a 12-point edge if the Republican recently withdrew their support from Trump. If a Republican lawmaker continues to support Trump, the private polling shows they are at a similar 12-point deficit. The survey showed than 61 percent of voters said Republicans who decided to withdraw support for Trump over the past few days “lack character and integrity” compared to 39 percent who said those Republicans “are showing character and integrity for standing up to Donald Trump.”

-- A battery of tough new ads is going on the air this week to highlight the 2005 video.

One new spot targeting Republican Mike Gallagher, the Republican running to replace Rep. Reid Ribble (R) in Wisconsin, uses Trump’s language from the tape. “Mike Gallagher still says we have to support Donald Trump. No, we don’t. We don’t have to support Mike Gallagher either,” a narrator says.

Another commercial going on the air today from Democrat Terri Bonoff in the suburbs of Minneapolis hits incumbent Rep. Erik Paulsen hard for not withdrawing his support until now. “Despite learning months ago that Donald Trump spoke of women in ways that should never be repeated, then his ridiculing the disabled and later mocking veterans and the families of fallen soldiers. … Erik Paulsen refused to disavow Donald Trump -- until it threatened his own campaign,” Bonoff says to camera. “I approved this message because we deserve someone in Congress with the courage to do what’s right.”

4. How many more explosive tapes are going to come out? And are they worse than the hacked emails that WikiLeaks will post?

-- The Huffington Post obtained a transcript of an unaired "Apprentice" moment, in which Trump slammed the appearance of an up-and-coming country singer’s skin. “I assume you’re gonna leave this off, don’t put this [expletive] on the show, you know. But her skin, her skin sucks, okay?” he says, according to the transcript. “I mean her skin, she needs some serious [expletive] dermatology. You’re obviously not a skin man." He later reiterated the point, pounded the table and said, “which is okay … I wish I wasn’t."

-- MGM claimed it cannot release raw footage of Trump on “The Apprentice” due to contractual obligations, bolstering claims made by producer Mark Burnett after Democratic operatives offered millions for the tapes. "MGM owns Mark Burnett's production company and 'The Apprentice' is one of its properties,” the company said in a statement. “Despite reports to the contrary, Mark Burnett does not have the ability or the right to release footage or other material from 'The Apprentice.” (Politico)

-- Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera said he has uncovered more “embarrassing” statements Trump has made on camera in previous interviews: “I have interviewed [Trump] many times and been with him many times and I have tapes,” Rivera said on Fox News. “My brother and I have been starting to go through the tapes now and there are statements that, in the context of the current climate, would be embarrassing.” He did not say whether he planned to make the recordings public.

-- Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway left open the possibility there could be more damning tapes still to come during an interview on “CBS This Morning.” “There’s no way for me to know that,” she said.

In another interview with MSNBC on Sunday night, Chris Matthews asked Conway: “So you’re with the campaign till the bitter end?” She responded, “I’m with the campaign until the bitter end, unless…” Then drifted off. Asked “unless what?”, she replied: “Who knows?”

Campaigning in Pennsylvania yesterday, the wounded GOP nominee showed how dangerous his unpredictability is for down-ballot candidates. He threatened to talk more about Bill and Hillary’s personal life if more tapes about him come out. He read unscientific online surveys off of a cellphone someone handed him to insist that he is actually ahead of Clinton. And he went on an extended riff about the late senator Edward M. Kennedy’s 1969 car crash that killed a 28-year-old woman on Chappaquiddick Island, Mass.

Jenna Johnson, who has been following Trump for a year, writes that his rallies increasingly take place in some kind of alternate reality. In the Keystone State yesterday, for example, he was introduced as “the next president” and greeted by thousands of screaming supporters. “Crowds like these are Trump’s case for not dropping out of the race," Johnson writes. "Crowds like these are his evidence that he can still win. Crowds are his polls. But Trump has already won these people over, and if he wants to win the election, he has to dramatically broaden his following.”

None of that will win him fresh voters or stop the bleeding. But Trump is increasingly isolated and at this point his campaign is being almost totally orchestrated by its CEO, Stephen K. Bannon, who is also the chairman of conservative website Breitbart.

-- Hillary had her largest rally of the campaign last night. The Secret Service said she drew 18,500 in Columbus to the south oval of The Ohio State University. “Some of the traveling press corps members who cover Clinton were skeptical of the figure, pegging it at closer to 10,000,” John Wagner writes. “Monday night’s rally had several things going for it, including being held at night. Most of Clinton’s events take place during the late morning or afternoon, when most people are working.”

-- A Russian woman who accused former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer of assaulting her was arrested last night for trying to extort money from him. Svetlana Zakharova, 26, was charged with grand larceny by extortion. The Russian fled the country after accusing Spitzer in February of assaulting her in a room at The Plaza Hotel, an allegation his attorney said was false, created by someone with “emotional difficulties.” (AP)

-- WikiLeaks released more than 2,000 additional emails from Clinton chairman John Podesta. It is the second release in four days from the group, which claims to have a trove of more than 50,000 emails from him.

In one email to campaign aides, Podesta wrote that Univision chair Haim Saban thought they were “under reacting to Trump/Hispanics,” and believed they could get more support by standing up for Latinos: “If Haim is raising it, it means he’s hearing it from his Univision colleagues,” campaign vice chair Huma Abedin noted in response. “The emails reveal how a major donor had access to the highest levels of the Clinton campaign and was able to press top aides about an issue of major interest to his company,” Matea Gold and Rosalind S. Helderman report.

Another email shows Clinton’s staff MAJORLY understating the importance of news over her private email server, after it was first reported by the Times in 2015: “Clinton’s aides discussed the possibility that she would make a statement about the emails during a Clinton Global Initiative panel. ‘It would be just light-hearted enough while giving her the opportunity to address this seriously, be a little conciliatory as discussed,’ the aide wrote. ‘Goal would be to cauterize this just enough so it plays out over the weekend and dies in the short term.’”

Clinton was apparently “leaning towards” endorsing a reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act last year, as campaign aides fretted over how to prevent Elizabeth Warren from endorsing Sanders and worked to open lines of communication with the powerful Massachusetts senator. “I am still worried that we will antagonize and activate Elizabeth Warren by opposing a new Glass-Steagall,” Clinton consultant Mandy Grunwald said in October 2015. “I worry about defending the banks in the debate.” The emails also provide a window into the hand-wringing among Clinton’s staffers as they prepared their boss for a private sit-down with Warren, which they knew would leak to the press. (Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey)

Clinton wanted to respond more forcefully to the 2015 release of the book “Clinton Cash,” which sought to allege nefarious activity by the Clinton Foundation, and suggested taping a straight-to-camera video responding to the book. In another, longtime Clinton aide Doug Band referred to Chelsea Clinton as a "spoiled brat." The Clinton campaign also reportedly discussed opposing the Keystone XL pipeline as early as April 2015, months before formally announcing her disapproval in September. (CNN)

Former Blink 182 lead singer Tom DeLonge had made recent contact with Podesta about UFOs. DeLonge “wrote in cryptic terms about their well-documented mutual interest in more government disclosure about the phenomenon of unidentified flying objects of potential extraterrestrial origin.” It is unclear whether Podesta responded to the messages. (WSJ’s Byron Tau)

-- Trump and his team were thoroughly briefed on Russia’s role in attempting to hack into Democratic email accounts well before the Republican nominee questioned the nature of the threat in both presidential debates, senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News. "To profess not to know at this point is willful misrepresentation," said an official, who assured reporters that both candidates have been briefed on the issue since mid-August. "The intelligence community has walked a very thin line in not taking sides, but both candidates have all the information they need to be crystal clear."

-- The Washington Post’s editorial board said Clinton’s excerpted Wall Street speeches released in the WikiLeaks trove reveal her to be “reasonable”: “We hope the excerpts are genuine, because at least in the texts made public as of Monday, the Hillary Clinton that emerges is a knowledgeable, balanced political veteran with sound policy instincts and a mature sense of how to sustain a decent, stable democracy,” they write. “The fact that Ms. Clinton’s eminently reasonable and open-minded words regarding the issues and her opponents are being treated as scandalous is the real scandal.”

-- A buoyant Clinton promised to give Americans “something to vote for, not just something to vote against" in Detroit, pledging a “renaissance” of advanced manufacturing in the Rust Belt while questioning Trump’s commitment to blue-collar voters. From John Wagner and Anne Gearan :“Campaigning … where Trump’s once-promising position had already become a long shot before the revelation of lewd comments the Republican nominee had made about women, Clinton urged voters not to let disgust at ugly politics turn them off from participating. ‘That’s what the other side wants you to feel, that ‘I’m not going to vote because it’s so nasty,’’ she told her audience at Wayne State University. ‘That’s the main reason to vote, to make it clear that we’re not going to put up with that kind of attitude … We’ve got to make good things come together in America, and I believe that with all my heart.”

-- And the pro-Clinton Super PAC Priorities USA is considering expanding its focus to down-ballot races, throwing money behind Democratic Senate candidates in North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

-- New York Times Magazine, “How Hillary became ‘Hillary,’” by Robert Draper: “I get that some people just don’t know what to make of me,” Clinton said while accepting the Democratic nomination this summer. “It was a rare acknowledgment by the candidate herself of what has been the defining paradox of her career: She has been a presence in American public life for more than a third of a century, and yet for all her ubiquity she remains a curiously unknown quantity to many voters. It’s possible to glimpse the origins of this paradox in the time between Bill Clinton’s 1980 loss and his 1982 victory [in Arkansas]. Upon facing the electoral judgment of her persona for the first time, [Hillary] began what has gradually evolved into a precarious shadow game with the American public — a ritualized series of reveals, retreats and resets, each iteration seemingly more freighted with recrimination and self-doubt than the one preceding it. [This] was the moment when Hillary became ‘Hillary’ — a collaborative creation by herself and her political enemies, both a reflection and a source of the uncertainty and mistrust with which the public has so often regarded her.”

-- Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman, who ran for governor of California as a Republican but endorsed Hillary earlier this year and is thought to be angling for a cabinet post in her administration, has aggressively thrown her support behind the Democratic nominee in New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District race: In a telephone interview last week, the longtime Republican fundraiser said she is backing Democrat Josh Gottheimer because she believes his opponent, incumbent Scott Garrett, is a “Republican extremist.” (Wall Street Journal)

-- 66.5 million watched Sunday night, down 20 percent from the 84 million who watched the first debate.

-- A chorus of former federal prosecutors from both parties slammed Trump for suggesting that he would jail Clinton. From DOJ beat reporter Matt Zapotosky: "Former attorney general Michael Mukasey is no fan of Hillary Clinton or her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. In a speech at the Republican convention earlier this year, the George W. Bush appointee said Clinton’s conduct in the email case 'exquisitely sums up the case against her presidency.' But even Mukasey said that he would 'argue against' Trump’s idea to have a special prosecutor reinvestigate and jail Clinton over her email practices. 'It would be like a banana republic,' Mukasey said in an interview ... 'Putting political opponents in jail for offenses committed in a political setting, even if they are criminal offenses — and they very well may be — is something that we don’t do here.'" (Trump doubled down last night. As the crowd chanted lock her up during a rally, he replied: "Lock her up is right." Click the image above for the video.)

-- Warren Buffett took Trump to task for suggesting, without evidence, that he and other wealthy Democratic donors take “massive” tax deductions similar to the one he has used to avoid paying federal income tax. “I have paid federal income tax every year since 1944, when I was 13,” Buffett said in a statement. “I have copies of all 72 of my returns and none uses a carryforward.” On Monday, he reported an adjusted gross income of $11.6 million in 2015 and said he took close to $5.5 million in total deductions. The majority of those (nearly $3.5 million) reflected allowable charitable contributions. (CNN Money)

-- The Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City closed on Monday, putting 3,000 people out of work and further eroding the Republican’s message that he is an “unmatched business success” -- just hours after the second presidential debate. The casino’s owner, billionaire investor Carl Icahn, blamed the closure on a bitter disagreement with the casino’s unionized workers, who went on strike in July. He said in a statement that the casino has lost “almost $350 million over just a few short years” and could not be saved. (Jonathan O'Connell and Drew Harwell)

-- Trump’s African American outreach director, Omarosa Manigault, argued that Bill Clinton is a worse predator than Trump. She told reporters after Sunday’s debate that the former president “preyed on this intern” (Monica Lewinsky) and “destroyed her as a human being.” “This is not a couple you want in the White House,” the former “Apprentice” star said. “People say, ‘Oh, Hillary’s separate from her husband.’ But if you get Hillary in the White House, you also get Bill, and Lord have mercy on us if we have to go through four more years of that.”

-- Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts nixed a fundraiser that was slated to feature an appearance by Mike Pence, citing a “lack of interest” in the Trump-Pence event among state donors. Sources said neither Ricketts nor his family is backing away from the Republican nominee. (Politico)

-- “Contrition is not in Trump’s repertoire,” George F. Will writes in his column. “Why should it be? His appetites, like his factoids, are self-legitimizing. Trump is a marvelously efficient acid bath, stripping away his supporters’ surfaces, exposing their skeletal essences. … [Still,] by persevering through Nov. 8 he can simplify the GOP’s quadrennial exercise of writing its post-campaign autopsy, which this year can be published Nov. 9 in one sentence: ‘Perhaps it is imprudent to nominate a venomous charlatan.' ... Trump is the GOP’s chemotherapy, a nauseating but, if carried through to completion, perhaps a curative experience.”

-- "This sad Republican fate is deserved," writes Michael Gerson, a former Bush 43 adviser, in his Post column. "It is the culmination, the fruition, of an absurdly simplistic anti-establishment attitude. The Trump campaign is what happens when you choose a presidential candidate without the taint of electoral experience — and all the past vetting that comes with it. It is what happens when you embrace a candidate only on the basis of an outsider persona, who lacks actual political skills ... This is what Republicans get for devaluing the calling of public service. When you have contempt for politics, you often get a politics worthy of contempt.”

-- Jennifer Rubin says it is time for a new party: "The GOP glorifies ignorance and dishonesty, touting Pence as a hero of some sort. He is not an unhinged ignoramus like Trump. No, Pence knows better and surely knows what he is doing. He had the power to walk away, putting a stake through Trump’s campaign and saving the GOP’s soul. He didn’t. He and the GOP deserve one another; center-right voters and the country deserve a new party."

-- Leading Latino Republicans are calling on Reince step down as RNC chair, and they're meeting next week in Las Vegas to chart the way forward for the Republican Party. In interviews, frustrated Republicans said they feel “betrayed” by Priebus, who in 2012 promised to be an ally in accomplishing immigration legislation. From Buzzfeed’s Adrian Carrasquillo: “The group, whose members hail from 10 states including Texas, Colorado, California, New Mexico, and Nevada, will also discuss the creation of Project 44, an effort to embrace the inclusive values and policies that helped [George W. Bush] win 44 percent of the Latino vote. The nascent initiative is seen as a repudiation of the traditional way the party has engaged Latinos, with members of the group arguing that outreach has been very superficial, focused on elections, and not breaking through to local communities.”

-- Miami’s Latin Builders Association endorsed Clinton as well, the first time the conservative-leaning, largely Cuban-American organization has backed a Democrat for president. Leaders from the group said they plan to hold a closed-door meeting with Clinton today. (The Miami Herald)

-- IF HE WON, TRUMP COULD NOT GOVERN EFFECTIVELY: Wall Street Journal Washington bureau chief Gerald F. Seib says Trump is starting to look like an independent candidate – which would badly hurt his ability to get anything done should he get elected. “Contrary to popular mythology, a president isn’t so powerful that he or she can proceed successfully without institutional support elsewhere in the system. A president who loses that support can become a stranded and lonely person. Check the final days of Richard Nixon’s presidency for proof. That was at the end of a presidency. In effect, Mr. Trump is advancing the idea of becoming a president at war with much of his own party at the outset of his term. The current system may well place too much emphasis on party loyalty. But there’s also a penalty for having too little. The bottom line for Mr. Trump is this: If he were to win now, he would have to generate a lot of popular support around the country to make up for lost party loyalty in Washington.”

-- Arizona Sen. John McCain and Democratic challenger Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick faced off in their only debate. The Arizona Republic’s Michael Squires and Mary Jo Pitzl report that Kirkpatrick chided McCain for continuing to endorse Trump after her made disparaging comments about Muslims, Mexicans, and Gold Star families before finally rescinding his endorsement last week. Meanwhile, Kirkpatrick was put on the defensive for her Affordable Care Act vote, acknowledging “serious problems” with the law in Arizona. McCain argued for a full repeal. Kirkpatrick said McCain and his colleagues need to do their job and give Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing. McCain said it's “better to live with eight justices on the court” than to add another liberal to the bench.

-- Could Ralph Lauren become Clinton’s “dresser-in-chief" in November? Possibly so -- at least based on the double-faced pantsuit she donned during Sunday's debate. From the New York Times' Vanessa Friedman: "See, she also wore Ralph Lauren to the first presidential debate … to her speech accepting her party’s nomination … and to her opening campaign rally on Roosevelt Island. … A Clinton-Lauren collaboration would have, indubitably, elegant results. She would look, if she does become president, always appropriate. Odds are that the pantsuits would continue but that they would be slightly more tailored than they have been, a bit less like coat-dresses, a little softer. Together, they would not foment sartorial revolution, or shatter the Angela Merkel mold of dressing, or change the parameters of what it means to look like a president. That’s probably no bad thing, since the next holder of the executive office will have other eggs to break, and there’s no reason to waste political capital on clothes."

On the campaign trail: Clinton rallies voters in Miami; Bill Clinton speaks in Glade, Fort Myers and Pinellas County, Fla. Trump campaigns in Panama City, Fla. Pence is in Newtown, Iowa.

At the White House: Obama campaigns for Clinton in Greensboro, N.C. Biden attends meetings at the White House.

-- The Capital Weather Gang gives today an official “nice day” stamp! (But you should still pack a jacket.) “Mostly sunny with a chilly start, but then daytime top temperatures should slightly exceed yesterday, with highs aiming toward the middle to upper 60s.”

-- The Nationals beat the Dodgers 8-3 in Los Angeles, taking a 2-1 lead in the playoff series.

-- D.C. officials are revamping guidelines for taxis once again, mandating that the more than 7,500 vehicles be equipped with digital meters and Apple pay technology by summer 2017. The move comes just four years after Washington’s last upgrade, as city officials seek to keep the fleet competitive with options such as Uber and Lyft. (Luz Lazo)

-- Maryland’s health department announced the first case of seasonal flu has been diagnosed in the state this autumn, occurring nearly one month earlier than last year. Officials said the patient was not hospitalized. (Martin Weil)

-- “America’s Got Talent” host Nick Cannon is taking classes at Howard University this fall, working towards a legal communications degree as he continues to advocate on behalf of black communities and youth empowerment. One of his courses takes place behind the bars of a D.C. prison, where students learn about the criminal justice system alongside a group of prison inmates. (Perry Stein)

-- Always dreamed of living in the White House but haven’t quite managed to get there yet? Two “replica White Houses” modeled after the real things are now on the market in the McLean area. They’re just two miles apart, but even the bootleg versions will run you a couple million. (Steve Hendrix)


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