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Inside Politics: Midterm machinations

Some Republicans believe they can still save their House majority, but GOP operatives and donors worry the president still doesn't realize how bad it could be. Plus, President Trump starts talking on the stump about Medicare and Social Security and prepares for a fall pivot to foreign policy. It's all on Inside Politics.

Posted: Sep 10, 2018 11:48 AM
Updated: Sep 10, 2018 12:02 PM

Here are the stories our D.C. insiders are talking about in this week's "Inside Politics" forecast, where you get a glimpse of tomorrow's headlines today.

1. White House's rose-colored glasses

Is the President ready for November? CNN national political correspondent Maeve Reston said she's hearing from Republican operatives and donors worried that President Trump and his top advisers don't realize how bad November's election could be for them.

"There's real concern that he is totally delusional about the chances of keeping the House," Reston said. "That's in part because there aren't a lot of people who are around him willing to tell him the truth."

2. Trump may turn to foreign policy

With the President under siege at home, he may soon borrow a familiar White House tactic: a focus on foreign affairs.

"Presidents often, when they get in trouble at home, go abroad and they find that's a way to escape their troubles," said New York Times White House reporter Michael Shear. Trump will address the UN General Assembly later this month, and has trips to Europe and South America planned for after the election.

"President Trump hasn't always been as successful using the foreign trips as a way of getting away from trouble," said Shear, citing the Helsinski summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "But at least it's an opportunity to change the subject, and if the Democrats do take over the House he'll want to try to do that."

3. Trump talking more about entitlements

President Trump's recent rallies have included a new rallying cry: I'm the one who will save your Social Security and Medicare.

"The President is saying Democrats want to kill Social Security and Medicare, while the Republicans are not going to do anything to it," Bloomberg White House correspondent Toluse Olorunnipa said. Trump is making that promise despite so many of his fellow Republicans vowing to rein in entitlement spending.

"Democrats are pushing back, saying Republicans aren't necessarily trying to save Social Security, their tax cuts are making it harder to fund those programs," said Olorunnipa.

4. Congress eyes new Russia sanctions -- later

After the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, there was a clamor in Congress to do more to punish Russia for election meddling that appears to be going on to this day. But Washington Post congressional reporter Karoun Demirjian said nothing looks imminent.

"The GOP basically said, hold on hold on, we're going to go through a step-by-step process first," said Demirjian. "That process began in earnest last week, it's picking up steam this week. The question is, are they actually going to do anything before the midterm elections come about? It's not necessarily clear that they have the time or inclination to do so."

5. GOP hopes all politics still local

And from CNN's chief national correspondent John King:

Last week there was evidence of a dip in President Trump's approval rating. This week the overwhelming focus was on White House chaos and the character and temperament questions raised by the new Bob Woodward book and then the anonymous New York Times essay from a senior administration official.

Not great developments for Republicans trying to protect the GOP House majority, to say the least.

Inside 60 days now to the midterms, most Republicans with significant campaign experience concede the odds of protecting the House majority are bleak -- and concede the past week or two has, to be polite, not been very helpful.

But there are some top GOP strategists who still see a path. Their mantra: make the election about the economy, and local issues; block out President Trump and his Twitter feed as much as possible and get it right when it comes to the nuts and bolts of organizing, turnout and fund-raising.

Even in this group, though, the assessments at the 60-day mark had seeds of worry.

First the math.

"I can still make the case for 15-20," said a longtime GOP strategist involved in 2018 House races, meaning a case that the Republicans lose seats but that Democrats do not get the 23-seat gain needed for the majority. This strategist went on to say, "I can also see 20 to 30, but I believe we are still in play." Meaning still in play to keep the Democratic gains below 23.

A second GOP operative, with some three decades experience, said as of this weekend, "I have us down 17/18 net in the House."

But both operatives pointed to trouble signs beyond any worries about how the President conducts himself.

The powerful national economic news should help GOP candidates. But the second operative said there was growing evidence that "tariffs are starting to have a real impact in the Midwest -- Michigan, for example -- and farm country."

Both operatives also gave Democrats begrudging credit for tapping into concerns about health care costs and access. "Health care is now a roaring issue and the GOP has no answers," the second strategist said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16769

Reported Deaths: 803
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds107426
Madison76728
Lauderdale75968
Neshoba72844
Jones70133
Scott66312
Forrest59539
DeSoto57510
Rankin4569
Leake45212
Holmes44330
Copiah3294
Jackson31415
Attala31118
Yazoo2964
Newton2884
Lincoln28031
Leflore27736
Oktibbeha27314
Harrison2697
Monroe26925
Wayne2623
Lamar2505
Lowndes2479
Pearl River21231
Pike20411
Adams20316
Washington1987
Warren19610
Lee1948
Noxubee1936
Covington1792
Bolivar16911
Jasper1674
Clarke15619
Smith15511
Kemper15511
Lafayette1544
Chickasaw14014
Coahoma1314
Clay1254
Winston1241
Carroll11911
Marion1169
Claiborne1155
Lawrence1071
Grenada1074
Simpson1040
Yalobusha1046
Sunflower923
Tate911
Hancock9012
Union897
Itawamba897
Marshall873
Wilkinson859
Panola843
Montgomery841
Webster844
Jefferson Davis823
Tippah7611
Calhoun674
Amite661
Walthall640
Humphreys637
Tunica583
Prentiss533
Perry513
Choctaw502
Pontotoc473
Jefferson421
Tishomingo360
Greene331
Stone320
Quitman320
Tallahatchie301
George292
Franklin292
Alcorn191
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 19073

Reported Deaths: 672
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2321118
Jefferson1901104
Montgomery185843
Tuscaloosa83616
Marshall7089
Franklin5858
Lee56234
Shelby52819
Tallapoosa43466
Butler42118
Walker3862
Elmore3749
Chambers36026
Madison3534
Unassigned3062
Morgan3021
Baldwin2939
Dallas2923
Lowndes26512
Etowah26312
DeKalb2573
Autauga2415
Coffee2391
Sumter2287
Houston2265
Bullock2176
Pike2120
Colbert1902
Hale1859
Russell1810
Barbour1771
Marengo1756
Lauderdale1722
Calhoun1673
Wilcox1577
Choctaw15310
Cullman1521
Clarke1492
St. Clair1351
Randolph1287
Dale1240
Marion12411
Pickens1205
Talladega1195
Limestone1080
Chilton1071
Greene954
Macon934
Winston910
Jackson833
Covington821
Henry822
Crenshaw783
Bibb761
Escambia753
Washington736
Blount631
Lawrence510
Monroe462
Geneva440
Perry430
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar280
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Tupelo
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Columbus
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Oxford
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Starkville
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