FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.—Republicans typically perform well around military installations.
At a rally yesterday afternoon just outside of Fort Bragg, the world’s biggest Army base by population, Barack Obama crisply summarized why Democrats hope this year will be different – and why the Clinton campaign is competing so aggressively for the votes of active duty service members, their families and veterans.
“Listen, if you want to keep our military the greatest fighting force that the world has ever known … then we can’t have a commander-in-chief who suggests that it’s okay to torture people,” the president said, referring to Donald Trump. “We can't afford a commander-in-chief who insults POWs [like John McCain], who attacks a Gold Star mother, who actually talks down our troops (and) says he knows more than our generals.”
Obama recalled a briefing he received just hours after being inaugurated on how to launch nuclear weapons. “It will sober you up,” he said. “We can't have somebody like that handling our nuclear codes.”
-- North Carolina has a massive military presence. More than 50,000 active duty personnel are assigned to Fort Bragg. Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville houses several Marine Corps combat units and support commands. The Air Force’s 4th Striker Wing is based in Goldsboro. With every poll showing that this state remains a true toss-up, strategists on both sides see these communities as top targets.
Unfortunately, there is not recent, reliable polling on this specific demographic. Some earlier surveys showed Trump faring well among members of the Armed Forces but underperforming past Republican presidential candidates.
Mike Pence, whose son Michael is a Marine second lieutenant, campaigned yesterday in Greenville, North Carolina. Ripping into Clinton for her handling of Benghazi, he declared: “As the proud father of a United States Marine Corps officer, I say anyone who says ‘What difference does it make?’ should be disqualified from being the commander in chief of our military.”
Tim Kaine held a rally on Monday right outside Camp Lejeune, where his son Nat, a Maine first lieutenant, is stationed (though he’s currently deployed overseas). The senator, after being introduced by the Military Spouse of the Year, opened with a story about how he’d been in town last Thanksgiving to be with his son and how he came down to see him on July Fourth, before Hillary tapped him to be her running mate. His wife, Anne Holton, came to the same city last week as a campaign surrogate. Both stressed the work Clinton did on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Kaine then spent several minutes lacing into Trump over his criticism of Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Gold Star parents who spoke at the Democratic National Convention. He seized on a New York Magazine story that came out last weekend, which recounted an adviser telling Trump back in August that it might not be a good idea to attack a Gold Star family. And Trump reportedly replied, “What’s that?” Kaine was incredulous: “What’s a Gold Star family?! What’s a Gold Star family?!?!”
Joe Biden opened speeches in Rock Hill and Charlotte on Tuesday by recalling his late son Beau’s service in the Delaware Army National Guard, which included a tour of duty in Iraq. He then hit Trump using language very similar to Obama’s.
-- Worried about softness in this area, Trump has changed up how he talks about the military in the closing weeks. His Thursday night rally in Selma, which is an hour away from Fort Bragg, focused on this constituency.
Gone are his declarations that the military is “a disaster.” Mainly reading from a TelePrompter, Trump told the crowd exactly what it wanted to hear. He promised to get rid of the caps on defense spending in the sequester, to expand the Marine Corps from 27 to 36 battalions and to “provide full support for families – including jobs, education and housing.” “I will never, never, never let you down … and you’ve been let down many times over the years,” he said.
Seven Medal of Honor recipients stood behind him on stage. Trump read their names and praised each for his courage under fire. But then he could not resist going off the prompter. “I’m brave in other ways,” he declared. “I’m financially brave!”
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn warmed up the crowd of 15,000 by talking about his 16 years at Fort Bragg. Then Keith Kellogg, another retired lieutenant general, reminded everyone that the term “Tar Heel State” dates back to the Civil War. The Confederate soldiers from North Carolina were known as especially tough. “When they attacked,” Kellogg explained, “they stuck like they had tar on their heels.” “And you’re tar heels,” he added. “You’re part of history. You’re part of the movement to take back this country from the elites.”
Trump stressed that he will only use force “when it is vital for the national security of the United States.” “We will stop trying to build foreign democracies,” he said to loud cheers. “We have no right to be there. Instead, our focus must be on keeping American safe.”
The GOP nominee pointed again to the Medal of Honor recipients behind him so he could take a dig at Clinton: “To think of her being their boss, I don’t think so.”
-- For the Clinton campaign, Obama’s event at Fayetteville State University on Friday served dual purposes. Probably 95 percent of the crowd of 4,500 was African American. Hundreds of them wore garb signifying a personal or familial connection to the Army, whether a hat, a shirt or a tattoo. Obama’s military-themed messaging resonated as much as anything else.
“The thing with Donald Trump is that he’s a really great businessman,” said Pamela Packer, 50, an Army veteran who is studying to become a social worker and plans to focus on helping military families. “If we were looking for someone to run a corporation, he’d be totally great. But we’re looking for someone to lead our military, and he’s totally unqualified for that. Asking him to be president is like asking a nail technician to be your surgeon.”
Packer’s husband also served—in the 82nd Airborne Division—for 22 years. Before bringing her three kids to hear Obama’s speech, she planned to vote for Clinton. After listening to his pitch, she decided to walk around her neighborhood this weekend urging others to do the same.
Willie Miller, 62, served in the Army during the Cold War, from 1973 to 1988, so it baffles him that more voters aren’t outraged by Trump’s praise for Vladimir Putin. “It’s totally crazy. Crazy! Trump praises a Russian dictator! I don’t understand how that’s not political suicide. It would have been for anyone else – especially in the past,” he said.
Miller, who retired as a sergeant first class and still works as a contractor for the military, said people around here also laugh hard at the idea that Trump thinks he knows more about winning wars than the generals do. “Generals don’t get that star on their shoulder without being exceptional,” Miller said.
Obama, who did not serve in the military, did not broach the topic during his speech, but several older voters expressed disgust during interviews that Trump got deferments to avoid being drafted to fight in Vietnam. The Republican nominee, for his part, once said that sleeping around New York City during that era, while trying to avoid getting sexually-transmitted diseases, was “my personal Vietnam.”
-- Trump’s celebration of torture as a weapon of war is also a huge concern for some military voters. “Torture works,” Donald has said. Even though the use of such enhanced interrogation techniques is against federal law, Trump reiterated this summer that he would approve waterboarding “in a heartbeat” because he considers it “short of torture.” “If it doesn’t work,” he said, “they deserve it anyway for what they’re doing.” (Senior military officers responded they would disobey such an order.)
The most interesting man I met in Utah when I was there a few weeks ago was phone banking for Clinton. David Irvine is a retired Army brigadier general and a registered Republican who served four terms in the state House. “At this point, we will be paying a price for a long time because he’s said that. It just astounds me to hear Trump talk so flippantly,” the 73-year-old said. “The increased danger which he’s created for American military personal in the Middle East is incalculable.”
-- A POWERFUL MOMENT IN FAYETTEVILLE: As Obama riffed on why folks who care about the Armed Forces ought to support Clinton, an elderly white man in the bleachers – wearing a jacket with medals and military insignia – stood up, unfurled a Trump sign and begin yelling.
The crowd went wild, angrily jeering the interloper. This has happened many times before, but it felt like something more in this case. Emotions always run high in the final days of any campaign, but it was as if this Trump supporter suddenly became a stand-in for all the hate that the first black president has faced. The audience seemed to be getting eight years of frustration off its collective chest.
The president used the heckler as a foil. But first he had to regain control of his rambunctious supporters, and that proved startlingly difficult. For more than a minute, the commander-in-chief became annoyed as he tried to hush the crowd.
As the police escorted the protester out of the arena, Obama pleaded: “No, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Hold up. Hold up. Hold up. Hold up. Hold up. Hey, hold up! Hold up! Hold up! Hold up! Hold up! Hold up! Hold up! Hold up! Hold up! … Hey! Listen, listen, listen, listen. … Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, listen up! Hey, everybody! Everybody! Hey! Hey! Listen up! Hey! I told you to be focused, and you’re not focused right now! Listen to what I’m saying. Hold up! Hold up! Hold up! Hold up! Everybody sit down and be quiet for a second. Everybody sit down and be quiet for a second! Now, listen up! I’m serious!! Listen up!”
When Obama finally got a word in edgewise, he admonished his fans: “You’ve got an older gentleman who is supporting his candidate. He’s not doing nothing -- you don’t have to worry about him. This is what I mean about folks not being focused. First of all, we -- hold up! Hold up! First of all, we live in a country that respects free speech. Second of all, it looks like maybe he might have served in our military, and we’ve got to respect that. Third of all, he was elderly, and we’ve got to respect our elders. And fourth of all: Don’t boo. Vote!”
-- Obama looked magnanimous and, to put it bluntly, presidential. It was a night-and-day contrast to how Trump would have responded if he’d been the speaker in the same situation. How can we say this with certainty? Because Trump held a rally right here in Fayetteville the week before the North Carolina primary in March. An African-American protester was sucker-punched by a 78-year-old white man in a cowboy hat as he was led out of the stands by police. After another disruption, Trump egged on his base. “Get out of here,” he yelled at the protester. “Go home to mom!”
Trump at the time had been suggesting that his supporters “knock the crap” out of disruptors. “I’d like to punch him in the face,” he had said as a protester was escorted out. He even offered to cover the legal bills for his fans who roughed up hecklers.
The county sheriff’s office considered charging Trump with “inciting a riot” at his Fayetteville event, but authorities decided against it because precedent requires the government to prove that it was intentional.
-- Happy Saturday, and welcome to a special edition of The Daily 202. Today and tomorrow, Breanne and I will send an abridged version of the newsletter with key developments from the trail. Three more days...
-- “Federal authorities are investigating a possible threat from al-Qaeda to carry out pre-election terror attacks, leading officials in at least three states to take precautions,” Matt Zapotosky, Mark Berman and Adam Entous report: “The nature of the threat remains vague … and authorities said they are still assessing whether or not it is credible. A federal official and state authorities said law enforcement in New York, Texas and Virginia had been notified of the possible danger and were working with their federal counterparts.
In separate statements, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security said they were “vigilant and well-postured to defend against attacks here in the United States.” “U.S. officials say the plot appeared to emanate out of a group of al-Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan … Authorities frequently analyze nebulous threats of terror plots — and they take them especially seriously during high-profile events such as elections — but they are often unfounded. And U.S. intelligence agencies say it would be difficult for al-Qaeda’s leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan to conduct attacks outside the region.”
-- Our WaPo/ABC News tracking poll finds Clinton with a four-point lead over Trump (47-43).
-- A Fox News poll shows Clinton with just a two-point lead (45-43). She held a three point lead in last week’s poll, and a six point advantage in mid-October.
-- A Loras College survey shows Clinton is maintaining a solid six-point lead in Wisconsin. She led by eight points in early October. Meanwhile, the Senate race is tight: Russ Feingold leads Sen. Ron Johnson by just two (47-45), within the poll’s margin of error.
-- A Detroit Free Press poll finds an increasingly tight race in Michigan, with Clinton holding a four-point edge over Trump. Support for the GOP nominee has risen four points since last month, as more Republican and independent voters begin rallying around Trump in the final days of the campaign.
-- A federal judge handed down a preliminary injunction ordering North Carolina to reinstate a wave of cancelled voter registrations in the state. The move comes as the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP sued over cancellations in three counties, saying “thousands” of voters were affected by a recent change in state law. (CNN)
-- A federal jury returned guilty verdicts to two former Chris Christie allies on Friday, finding both Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni guilty on seven criminal counts for their roles in the 2013 “Bridgegate” lane closures. While Christie himself wasn’t charged, the case produced a steady stream of new allegations against the governor that are likely to haunt his future political prospects, Matt Zapotosky and Amber Phillips report.
In a statement, the New Jersey governor continued to insist he had no knowledge of the bridge plan, saying he was “saddened” by the choices of his former allies: “Today’s verdict does not change this for me,” he said. “But let me be clear once again, I had no knowledge prior to or during these lane realignments, and had no role in authorizing them. No believable evidence was presented to contradict that fact. Anything said to the contrary over the past six weeks in court is simply untrue.”
-- Robert Durst arrive in Los Angeles last night for his arraignment on a murder charge in the 2000 slaying of his friend Susan Berman. “The arrival of the [New York real estate heir] marks the latest chapter in a legal saga that was reinvigorated last year when the New York aristocrat was featured in the HBO documentary series ‘The Jinx,’” LA Times’ Richard Winton writes.
-- A New York City police officer was fatally shot and another injured during an incident in the Bronx on Friday. The fatal event reportedly occurred during response to a domestic violence complaint, authorities said. The suspect was also killed. (Mark Berman and Sarah Larimer)
-- An attorney for Chelsea Manning says the transgender soldier imprisoned in Kansas has tried to kill herself for the second time in recent months. Manning, serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified military and State Department information, also reportedly attempted suicide last month and in July. (AP)
-- Distrust between the U.S. and Russia has sunk to its lowest level since the Cold War, according to a new study of attitudes in each country. Only 23 percent of Russians say they have a positive view of the United States, while a majority of Americans — 55 percent — see relations with Moscow as "worsening." (Ishaan Tharoor)
-- Clinton spent Friday stumping in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio, bringing a new urgency to her message as she asked supporters to imagine Trump taking the oath of office and having control over the nation’s nuclear arsenal. “Think about what it would mean to entrust the nuclear codes to someone with a very thin skin who lashes out at anyone who challenges him,” Clinton said in Pittsburgh. “Imagine how easy it would be that Trump would feel insulted and start a real war, not just a Twitter war at 3 in the morning.”
-- Meanwhile, Trump traveled to rural towns in New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania, an eleventh-hour push as he seeks to win at least one blue-leaning state and dramatically drive up turnout in the battleground states. “Don’t let the pundits, the politicians or the media tell you what kind of a country you have,” Trump said in Wilmington. “Don’t let them limit your dreams because they want to limit your dreams. You can have any future you want.” The move comes as Trump has made many stops in these small, majority-Republican towns, seeking to drive up heavy turnout by rural white voters to offset his weakness in other, more suburban areas. (John Wagner, Sean Sullivan and Abby Phillip have the lede-all.)
-- Beyoncé and Jay Z appeared together at a get-out-the vote concert for Clinton in Cleveland last night, the latest in a series of star-studded events aimed at helping the Democratic nominee shore up among young voters. In addition to Jay Z’s Cleveland event, Jennifer Lopez headlined a concert in Florida and Stevie Wonder performed in Philadelphia, Abby Phillip reports. Events continue throughout the weekend, with Katy Perry holding a Pennsylvania event tonight, and Bon Jovi slated to hold a Sunday event in North Carolina.
-- LeBron James also plans to appear alongside Clinton at a Sunday campaign event in Cleveland, a little more than a month after he publicly endorsed the Democratic nominee. “The duo — who have yet to meet — will join forces for a get-out-the-vote rally at Cleveland’s Public Auditorium," writes Jeremy Gottlieb.
-- Both Clinton and Trump begin their day in Florida, where early voting ends in some counties on Saturday evening. “Mrs. Clinton’s afternoon rally in Pembroke Pines, an increasingly diverse community in Broward County, is aimed at driving South Florida’s mix of Hispanic, black, Caribbean and Jewish voters to cast an early vote. Mr. Trump planned to use a morning rally in Tampa, one of the country’s bellwether cities, to energize his loyalists and persuade the dwindling number of fence-sitters," the New York Times’ Jonathan Martin writes.
-- Early vote analysts suggest a highly competitive finish in the state, with Hispanics voting in far greater numbers than 2012. Should they break in Clinton’s favor and push Florida into her camp, it could effectively decide the election.
-- Later today, Trump will head west to stump in Reno and Denver, seeking to take advantage of tightening poll numbers in the states. (Still, the decision has puzzled some strategists, who note that demographics do not exactly favor the Republican nominee. And in Nevada, early voting ended yesterday.)
-- Fox News anchor Bret Baier apologized for falsely reporting that investigators had determined Clinton’s private email server was hacked “by five foreign intelligence agencies” -- and that an investigation would lead to an indictment after the election – acknowledging that “there is no evidence” for either statement. Paul Farhi has more: “… Neither of his reports about Clinton were accurate, Baier acknowledged Friday morning in a ‘Fox News alert’ conversation with Fox News anchor Jon Scott. Baier said he relied on a single anonymous source within the FBI for his report about an alleged hack of the server: “I was quoting from one source about his certainty that the server had been hacked by five foreign intelligence agencies. … As of today there still are no digital fingerprints of a breach, no matter what the working assumption is within the bureau.”
-- The State Department released its final batch of pre-election Clinton emails today, making public more than 285 pages of documents from her private email server. Many were duplicates. (Politico)
-- “Mexico officials are planning for economic turmoil if Trump wins,” by Joshua Partlow: “The Mexican government is holding last-minute meetings to game-plan their response to what many here see as a possible economic catastrophe for this country: a victory by [Trump]. The narrowing poll results … have intensified fears in the Mexican government that a Trump win might shake world confidence in this country’s economy and lead to lasting damage in the relationship with its largest trading partner.” Economists predict a short-term shock in Mexican financial markets after a potential Trump win, with a plunge in both Mexican currency and the domestic stock market. “Currency traders … predict that the peso, running at about 19 to the dollar, could fall to between 21 and 29 pesos … ’We will wake up in Mexico on Wednesday morning [facing] tremendous volatility,’” said one analyst. And Mexico’s Central Bank governor, Agustin Carstens, said this week that economic officials have been meeting to craft a “contingency plan” in case of an “adverse” result in the election.
-- “Melania Trump was paid for 10 modeling jobs in the U.S. worth $20,056 that occurred in the seven weeks before she had legal permission to work in the country,” the AP’s Alicia A. Caldwell, Chad Day and Jake Pearson report: “[Documents show] Melania was paid for 10 modeling assignments between Sept. 10 and Oct. 15, during a time when her visa allowed her generally to be in the U.S. and look for work but not perform paid work in the country. The documents indicate that the modeling assignments would have been outside the bounds of her visa. “Mrs. Trump, who received a green card in March 2001 …has always maintained that she arrived in the country legally and never violated the terms of her immigration status. During the presidential campaign, she has cited her story to defend her husband’s hard line on immigration.”
-- Bill Clinton said he felt “bad” for Melania for her vow to combat cyberbullying a as potential first lady, responding to her Thursday speech which many found to be ironic. "Yesterday, I never felt so bad for anybody in my life as I did for his wife, going out giving a speech saying, 'Oh, cyberbullying was a terrible thing,'" Clinton said while stumping for his wife in Colorado. "I thought, yeah, especially if it's done at 3:00 in the morning against a former Miss Universe by a guy running for president."
-- “Rudy Giuliani is claiming to have insider FBI knowledge. Does he really?” by Matt Zapotosky: “Rudy Giuliani told Fox News’s Martha MacCallum on Oct. 26 that Donald Trump had ‘a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next two days.’ ‘I’m talking about some pretty big surprise,’ he said. Two days later, FBI Director James Comey revealed to Congress that his agents had resumed their investigation of [Clinton’s] use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, after agents in an unrelated case discovered emails that could potentially be relevant to the server case. Giuliani is a former U.S. attorney and New York mayor whose former law firm represents the FBI Agents Association ... But does he have inside sources at the bureau who might have given him a heads-up about what was to come?”
-- Bush-era press secretary Ari Fleischer said he no longer plans to vote for Trump, detailing his reversal of support for the Republican nominee in a Post op-ed: “I said publicly I would hold my nose and vote for Trump and, if he won, I would hold my breath. Then Trump lost control of himself and his message. He veered recklessly off track, attacking an American judge for his Mexican heritage, criticizing a war hero’s family, questioning the legitimacy of the election and otherwise raising questions about his judgment. If this race were about change, Clinton or policy, Trump could win it. But he made it about himself. Because he is one of the most unpopular people ever to run for president, that was a big mistake. On Tuesday, if someone puts a gun to my head and tells me to make a choice, I’ll say ‘shoot.’ … I will vote for Republicans up and down the ballot. But when it comes to the presidency, I’m going to leave my ballot blank."
-- The NLRB ruled that Trump’s Las Vegas hotel violated labor law by refusing to bargain with the Culinary Union. The NLRB's decision “orders Trump Ruffin Commercial LLC to recognize and bargain with the workers. (Politico)
-- “In ‘Little Moscow,’ Russians helped Donald Trump’s brand survive the recession,” by Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman and Dana Priest: “The first of three identical 45-story Trump-branded condo buildings opened in this [South Florida] oceanfront city at a seemingly terrible time, just as the recession was dawning and the real estate market was starting to crumble.” But the Trump buildings were among those that survived, in part because developers turned to another business source wealthy Russians looking to move their money out of the volatile post-Soviet economy. “Today, there are so many Russians living in this city, a 1.8-square-mile collection of high-rise condos and upscale strip malls with caviar shops and Russian delis about 25 minutes north of Miami Beach, that locals call it “Little Moscow.” And the Trump brand has been dominant — with six condo skyscrapers in Sunny Isles carrying its logo. Trump’s positive statements about [Putin] and his Russia-aligned policy positions have prompted critics to question the extent of the [his] financial connection to the country … While he has denied having investments in Russia, the experience in Sunny Isles and other Trump-branded communities shows how Russians have invested in him.”
-- New York Times, “A Militia Gets Battle Ready for a ‘Gun-Grabbing’ Clinton Presidency,’” by David Zucchino: “The Georgia Security Force is one of scores of extremist militias nationwide that have rallied around [Trump], heartened by his harsh attacks on immigrants, Muslims and Syrian refugees. But no single issue motivates militiamen more than guns — and the enduring belief that [Clinton], despite her insistence that she is not anti-gun, is plotting to take them away. The Georgia militiamen mobilized in the woods here last weekend to fire weapons and train for the day when, they believe, they will be forced to defend what they call ‘our way of life.’ During two days of conversations, grievances poured forth from the group as effortlessly as bullets from a gun barrel. On armed excursions through sun-dappled forests, they spoke of a vague but looming tyranny — an amalgam of sinister forces to be held at bay only with a firearm and the willingness to use it …”
-- Paul Ryan announced he is running for speaker on Friday, brushing aside rumors that he planned to step down from his leadership post after Election Day. “I am going to seek staying on as speaker,” Ryan confirmed during a Wisconsin radio interview. “There’s a lot of unfinished work to do and I think I can do a lot to help our cause and our country. I’ve led us to offer a very comprehensive agenda to take to the country and I want to execute and implement that agenda.” He dismissed any rumors suggesting he was stepping down as “‘palace intrigue' in the Hill rags.” (Mike DeBonis)
-- But, but but: HuffPost’s Matt Fuller reports rumblings of potential Freedom Caucus backlash to come -- at least from one Kentucky Republican. “Rep. Thomas Massie suggested Friday that he would not vote for current House Speaker Paul Ryan to remain in the job, laying out a number of criteria for the next leader of the House GOP and raising the prospect that other Republicans may soon signal their intention to vote against Ryan on the floor in January. ‘It would be very difficult for him to get my vote based on what I assume his motives are, which are to run for president in 2020,’ Massie [said] … Members have discussed the idea of conservatives slowly coming out against Ryan in a sort of ‘drip, drip strategy,’ in one Republican’s words, that would consume the news cycle after the election …”
LOOKING AHEAD --> “At close of ugly contest, stark reality of low expectations awaits next president,” by John Wagner: “With the end of an ugly contest between Clinton and [Trump] drawing near … frustrations underscore a stark reality confronting Clinton if she reaches the White House: Much of the country will have very low expectations for what she might accomplish. It’s not that Clinton has been stingy in offering policy proposals. Over the course of her candidacy, she has put forward a slew of plans, many of them incremental, to expand health-care access, make child care more affordable, raise the minimum wage and invest in the country’s infrastructure, among many other things. But what made headlines were her blistering critiques of Trump, whom she accused of avoiding taxes and “degrading, insulting and assaulting” women for decades. Some voters simply don’t trust Clinton. But interviews with dozens of voters in battleground states — including many who attended her rallies — unearthed a far broader skepticism about her ability to work with a divided Congress and change the poisonous atmosphere in Washington.”
-- “In Britain, ‘remainers’ find hope in Brexit court decision,” by Karla Adam: “A day after the stunning High Court ruling that threatens to derail British Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to withdraw from the E.U., few in Britain were suggesting that Brexit is dead. But for the first time since the June 23 referendum that so crushed pro-E.U. voters, there were glimmers of hope on the ‘remain’ side that Britain will opt for something other than a hard exit from the E.U. If the government loses its case in the Supreme Court next month, Parliament would probably need to pass legislation before triggering Article 50. It is unclear what that would look like, but any such act could be subject to amendments by both houses of Parliament. … [and] analysts said Parliament’s involvement could hugely complicate May’s exit strategy.” “It’s the first piece of good news they have had since June,” said politics professor Tim Bale, referring to those who voted to stay in the union. “But I don’t think anyone should be celebrating in the sense that this could scupper Brexit. But it does mean the government has lost the initiative.”
-- New York Times, “The Closer: Michelle Obama,” by Julie Hirschfeld Davis: “The emails to Michelle Obama began flooding in minutes after she spoke out at an October rally in New Hampshire, her voice shaking, about [Trump’s] treatment of women. Sexual assault victims recounted their trauma, fathers poured out anxieties about unhealthy influences on their sons, and a distraught parent agonized over how to explain rape to a 10-year-old. The next morning in the East Wing, a first lady who had spent years in the White House staying away from politics sorted through a thick sheaf of printed messages … and realized there was an unlikely finale for her. Mrs. Obama had become the breakout voice of Campaign 2016.” No stranger to speaking her mind, Mrs. Obama nevertheless set about conforming to the traditional role of first lady after Obama won the presidency. “As the first black woman in the role, she was well aware from the start that there would be little margin for error. ‘She’s gained confidence,’” said longtime staffer Melissa Winter. “I think she ultimately enjoys it more than she thought she might.”
-- New York Times, “How to Satirize This Election? Even the Onion Is Having Trouble,” by Sarah Lyall: “Now that it’s almost over and we’re all thoroughly miserable, is there anything funny left to say about this dreadful election? Even the writers at the satirical website The Onion were struggling the other morning to come up with fresh avenues of amusement. It’s not that The Onion … has not faced dismaying events before. Its specialty is finding satire even in topics seemingly impossible to satirize. ‘God Angrily Clarifies ‘Don’t Kill’ Rule’ was its headline for a post-9/11 article in which a despairing God rails at the moronic nature of his creation.” But the 2016 campaign has proved particularly challenging: “This last week is just us strafing to find new angles, to put into words how horrible this experience has been,” said editor in chief Cole Bolton. Added managing editor Ben Berkley: “It’s hard to turn up the volume when the speaker is already blown out and everyone’s ears are already bleeding.”
-- The New Yorker, “The Surreal Election Season of a Hillary Clinton Impersonator,” by Susannah Kemple: “The eerie excitement of looking, speaking, and living as a major political figure isn’t without its stumbling blocks. Impersonators have been yanked offstage for inappropriate jokes and accused of being body doubles. For [Kelley] Karel, the earliest gigs were surreal: during a 1994 bit for NBC, she sang ‘I’ve Gotta Be Me’ in a Salt Lake City mall. Confused shoppers mistook her for the real First Lady and approached her, pleading for help with health-care crises. … As the hysteria of the 2016 Presidential election intensifies, a more troubling threat than bullshit preoccupies Karel. She heard of another Hillary getting roughed up at an impersonation gig; she worries that she’ll say the wrong thing in front of the wrong people. Scarier still, she has been pondering threats of violent resistance toward the real Hillary. ‘I don’t want a revolution,’ Karel said. Her voice shook. ‘I don’t want her to be shot.’”
-- The Capital Weather Gang says today’s forecast is “peak fall” -- AND the leaves are at their most colorful point all year: “This is storybook fall, more or less. Yeah, it’s a smidge warmer than normal, but when temperatures are in the 60s and it’s sunny… See you outside! It could be one of those days where you’re playing the “find the cloud” game. Highs are mainly targeting the mid-60s. North and northwest winds pick up in the morning, toward a peak around 10 mph with higher gusts in the midday and early afternoon.”
Trump’s team unveiled a two-minute television ad, spending $4 million to air it in nine battleground states and on nationally-televised shows. Campaign officials believe the unconventionally long ads will stand out from the noise as both campaigns ready for their final push, CNN Money’s Brian Stelter reports.