THE NOTE: Near-tragedies crash through campaign fantasies

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The TAKE with Rick Klein

The real world has a way of crashing through campaign fantasies.

The fantasies in this case include presidential fabrications, which had been dominating campaign discussions before explosive devices were sent to CNN and a series of prominent Democrats.

Fantasies also include the assumption that everyone listening to a speech by President Donald Trump is taking him, well, not literally.

The names of those targeted in whatever plot was hatched this week overlap extensively with any list of individuals and institutions that the president regularly, and quite unpleasantly, calls out. That’s not assigning or assuming blame — that’s just a fact.

It took despicable, though thankfully not tragic, acts for the chief combatants of 2016 to almost sound the same.

“We have to do everything we can to bring our country together,” Hillary Clinton said just hours after a suspicious package was sent to her home in New York.

“We have to come together,” Trump said in his first public comments.

Few expect such sentiments to last. Anger remains the through line of 2018 even if any explosions remain rhetorical and not physical.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally at the Toyota Center in Houston, Oct. 22, 2018.Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally at the Toyota Center in Houston, Oct. 22, 2018.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

According to our friends at FiveThirtyEight, Democrats could pick up as many as six governor seats this fall.

The head of the Democratic Governors Association, Jay Inslee, said those wins could change lives. He points to the expansion of Medicaid.

Wednesday night, the president campaigned along Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is in a tough re-election fight against Democrat Tony Evers, the state’s superintendent of schools.

In his first ad last month, Evers tore into Walker for having “rejected hundreds of millions in federal health care money” by choosing not to expand access to Medicaid.

Remember, the original Affordable Care Act, also referred to as “Obamacare,” gave states the chance to grow their Medicaid programs so people who make approximately $16,000 or less could have access to Medicaid, a government health care insurance program.

But many Republican-controlled states, including Wisconsin, sued and refused. Should Walker and any other Republican governors, or their predecessors, go down in two weeks, Democrats could take advantage of this option and provide health care insurance to hundreds of thousand of some of the country’s poorest people.

Walker, who has often worked to cut state budgets and government spending, last year petitioned the federal government to put in place stricter work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

PHOTO: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he continues to welcome a visit from President Donald Trump in what hes calling the toughest election for governor hes ever faced on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018, in Middleton, Wis.AP
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he continues to welcome a visit from President Donald Trump in what he’s calling the toughest election for governor he’s ever faced on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018, in Middleton, Wis.

The TIP with Adam Kelsey

If Democrats aren’t able to win the Senate in two weeks, how long could it be until they have another realistic chance?

Part of the answer depends on the party split heading into the 116th Congress, but for the sake of the hypothetical, let’s stick with a 51-49 split in favor of the GOP, which is currently the outcome with the highest probability based on FiveThirtyEight’s Senate forecast.

It’s impossible to predict which Class 2 incumbents might opt to alter the calculus by opting not to run in 2020, but right off the bat, Democrats can likely chalk up Sen. Doug Jones’ seat as a loss; that is, of course, unless Roy Moore decides to run again. 52-48 GOP.

Then, where are Democrats playing defense? If the current political climate holds — and let’s be honest, it probably won’t — the party can at least expect to play hardball in Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire and maybe Virginia. Let’s split those evenly and it’s now 54-46 GOP.

As for Democratic offense, there’s Colorado, Georgia, Maine — where activists are already fundraising against Sen. Susan Collins — and North Carolina, plus longer-shots in Kansas, Tennessee and Texas. Even if you give Democrats the slight upper hand, 4-3, in this group, it’s back to 50-50, and even that might be asking a lot.

Political waves typically don’t last multiple cycles, so any discussion about 2020 power returns to 2018. Even if Democrats aren’t able to gain a majority this year, they should at least be looking to maintain the status quo.


ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. Thursday’s episode features ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce, who talks to us from North Dakota about Heidi Heitkamp’s efforts to keep her Senate seat. And ABC News Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks tells us about the health care positioning on both sides of the aisle ahead of the midterms.


  • President Donald Trump is expected to address costly prescription drug pricing at 2 p.m. during remarks at the Department of Health and Human Services. Health care has become a hot-button issue in the final weeks of the midterm elections. Despite GOP efforts to weaken the anti-pricing-discrimination laws, Republican candidates have released ads touting concerns about maintaining protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Meanwhile, Democrats have also ramped up their health care talk in ads and on the trail.

  • The Justice Department hosts its first National Opioid Summit, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at 9:30 a.m. Sessions will announce new strategies to combat the opioid crisis, and counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway will be a panel moderator.
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., joins former Obama Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser Lisa Monaco, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Axios Executive Editor Mike Allen in one-on-one conversations on midterm election security in Washington at 8 a.m.
  • Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos goes before the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees in a closed-door hearing nearly one year after becoming the first person to plead guilty in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in prison for providing false statements to the FBI.
  • Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., will be featured speakers at the Washington Post’s midterm election preview, which will assess both parties’ chances in the midterms and explore what the results might mean for a variety of policy issues, at 4 p.m. at the Post’s D.C. headquarters.
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