Trump turns from 'humbling' grief to midterm fire and fury

President Donald Trump makes a hard turn Wednesday from offering empathy to grief-stricken Pittsburgh to the...

Posted: Oct 31, 2018 11:03 PM
Updated: Oct 31, 2018 11:03 PM

President Donald Trump makes a hard turn Wednesday from offering empathy to grief-stricken Pittsburgh to the fear and fury of a midterm election closing argument designed to drive up Republican turnout despite the risk of deepening national divides.

The President will launch an eight-state, 11-rally race to Election Day next Tuesday brandishing hardline rhetoric on immigration as he tries to wrest back control of a campaign that was muted by a week of tragedy and national anxiety.

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Trump had already complained that controversy over mail bombs allegedly sent by one of his supporters to his top targets in politics and the media was being drummed up by his critics to quiet GOP momentum.

Then the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, in which 11 people died, sparked a debate over the extent to which Trump's rhetoric was responsible for offering validation to white nationalists and extremists.

The President and the first lady traveled to Pittsburgh on Tuesday to visit the Tree of Life temple, where the shooting rampage took place, and comforted several police officers wounded in the attack.

The President was keeping a promise that he would visit to show support. His spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump found his time in Pittsburgh very moving and "very humbling and very sad."

Some local and civic leaders had asked him not to come while the funerals took place, and his arrival sparked some protests.

On Wednesday, Trump tweeted his grievance over that visit: "Melania and I were treated very nicely yesterday in Pittsburgh. The Office of the President was shown great respect on a very sad & solemn day. We were treated so warmly. Small protest was not seen by us, staged far away. The Fake News stories were just the opposite-Disgraceful!"

A White House official said there had been discussion of scheduling the visit later in the week but the optics of sandwiching it into a campaign swing were problematic.

The President is making clear he will not tame the incendiary political mood that his critics warn is fostering violence. Quite the opposite. He is signaling an intense and negative end to the campaign.

He is renewing charges that journalists are "enemies of the people" and seeking to whip up fervor among conservatives with an onslaught on immigration, the issue that first animated his political career and to which he returns each time he needs a comfort zone.

In an interview with Axios, Trump dramatically proposed ending birthright citizenship by executive order, even though doing so would be nearly impossible because it would involve the cumbersome process of amending the Constitution.

Trump is also sending 5,200 troops to the US-Mexico border, to prevent what he has styled as an invasion by a group of desperate migrants who are trekking slowly toward the United States.

"Our military is being mobilized at the Southern Border. Many more troops coming. We will NOT let these Caravans, which are also made up of some very bad thugs and gang members, into the U.S. Our Border is sacred, must come in legally. TURN AROUND!" he tweeted Wednesday.

Trump well knows he can't simply change the Constitution with a stroke of a pen. And he understands that the migrants are 1,000 miles from the US frontier and pose no realistic threat to Americans, for months at least.

But by staking out radical positions on immigration and invoking a sense of a nation under siege, he incites a volatile debate that serves to enliven Republican base voters who he needs to turn out in numbers approaching his shock White House win next Tuesday.

And he shows yet again that he is willing to push his constitutional powers and the instruments of his government -- the military, for example -- in politicized efforts to retain and maximize his power.

Fear plus prosperity is closing presidential argument

Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway denied the President was adopting a scorched earth strategy to whip up enthusiasm among grass-roots conservatives, contradicting legal experts, including her husband, who believe birthright citizenship is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

"if only the base had voted for him he wouldn't be President," Conway told reporters.

"I understand that that's the Sesame Grover word of the day -- that, fear and some other stuff -- but no, it's not whipping up the base."

In a more conventional campaign, the President would do more than Trump has to tout the motoring US economy and low jobless numbers, factors that Republicans hope will mitigate the losses that are historically suggested when a President's approval ratings are below 50%.

But while the President often gets distracted from his talking points, his 2020 campaign team is getting to work.

In a new ad that acknowledges the open secret that Trump is interested in the election that's two years off as much as or more than the one next Tuesday, the President's campaign argues that economic prosperity will founder if Democrats win back power in Washington.

"Sometimes success can bring complacency. We have to go remind them. We have to remind them that the economy is not just a given in the United States. It actually takes work," Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale told CNN's Dana Bash.

Trump will begin his final midterm election swing on Wednesday night in Florida, the epicenter of two acrimonious and tight races -- for a Democratic-held Senate seat and the Republican-run governor's mansion.

The effort by Repubican Gov. Rick Scott to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and the unexpectedly strong bid by Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum to beat GOP former Rep. Ron DeSantis in the gubernatorial race are playing out as part of a national referendum on Trump's presidency and are steeped in some of the toxic forces percolating in national politics.

Over the weekend, for instance, the President unleashed a fearsome attack on Gillum, who is African-American, branding him a "thief" in what many observers saw as a racially tinged attack.

Trump sticks mostly to friendly territory

The President will make further stops in Missouri, West Virginia, Indiana, Montana, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Ohio in the coming days, often reeling off a double header of rallies.

His itinerary offers a clue to how the election may turn out. Most of his stops are in support of Republicans who are trying to capture or retain Senate seats in states where he won big during the 2016 election.

Though his rallies will swamp multiple media markets, there is not much sign that Trump can be a lot of help to severely threatened Republican incumbents in suburban districts where his brazen manner could be a liability.

The President did, however, spend time in the last few days tweeting out endorsements of Republicans in wobbling House districts.

It remains unclear how the last week of violence and political recriminations will affect the election in its crucial final days.

But with early voting underway in many states, conventional wisdom is solidifying that Republicans will keep control of the Senate but that Democrats have an increasingly good chance of seizing back the House of Representatives.

In that scenario, Trump's final road trips will at least offer him a chance to claim that he won the Senate election -- even as he girds for two years of misery and investigations should Democrats win back control of House committees.

One prominent Republican, Rep. Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania, who is leaving the House, warned on Tuesday that Trump's birthright gambit was a major mistake.

"We all know challenges of suburban R's. The bloc of competitive R held districts less impacted by POTUS thus far are those w high # of immigrants. So now POTUS, out of nowhere, brings birthright citizenship up. Besides being basic tenet of America, it's political malpractice," Costello tweeted.

But there was also evidence that Trump's hardline focus on immigration was increasing the pressure on some Democrats trying to cling to Senate seats in red states.

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri ventured into Trump's territory on Fox News on Monday to say: "I do not want our borders overrun. And I support the President's efforts to make sure they're not."

Democrats have responded to Trump's broadsides by largely sticking to campaign themes of expanding health care coverage and protecting popular programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

But some of the party's potential contenders for the 2020 presidential race, which will erupt as soon as the midterm elections are over, have used the midterms to put down early markers in key primary states.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, for instance, was in Wisconsin on Tuesday, a state that Trump often crows he snatched from the Democrats in his surprise win over Hillary Clinton two years ago.

"I am sick and tired of this administration. I am sick and tired of what's going on," Biden said, expanding the Democratic election strategy into a broader argument on the need to curtail the Trump presidency.

"I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired, and I hope you are too."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307332

Reported Deaths: 7095
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20757248
Hinds19869408
Harrison17475302
Rankin13307275
Jackson13095243
Madison9886210
Lee9854169
Jones8289160
Forrest7522146
Lauderdale7185237
Lowndes6261144
Lamar610284
Lafayette6026117
Washington5279132
Bolivar4769129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4440103
Pearl River4418139
Warren4277118
Marshall4267100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4056132
Union403575
Neshoba3984176
Lincoln3869107
Hancock371985
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322681
Pike3177104
Scott310472
Yazoo304268
Alcorn297664
Itawamba296776
Copiah292965
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284668
Prentiss275659
Marion265679
Wayne261341
Leake260973
Grenada254882
Covington254380
Adams245882
Newton244859
George237647
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213273
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182354
Stone179131
Clarke176676
Tallahatchie175240
Calhoun163130
Yalobusha158636
Smith158534
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126223
Noxubee125833
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite119941
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105332
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95126
Humphreys94332
Franklin81723
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518588

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753351487
Mobile37698798
Madison33829494
Tuscaloosa25245443
Montgomery23942565
Shelby23094238
Baldwin20617300
Lee15510165
Calhoun14277311
Morgan14137268
Etowah13660345
Marshall11952219
Houston10379278
Elmore9988200
Limestone9806147
Cullman9467188
St. Clair9422234
Lauderdale9208227
DeKalb8745181
Talladega8042171
Walker7087275
Jackson6753110
Autauga6715103
Blount6480135
Colbert6200130
Coffee5397112
Dale4766110
Russell428238
Franklin419882
Chilton4080109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3892146
Escambia387574
Dallas3526149
Chambers3499122
Clarke346360
Marion3065100
Pike305475
Lawrence295295
Winston272272
Bibb256258
Marengo248561
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224755
Hale218675
Butler212266
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176741
Monroe171240
Washington163838
Macon154348
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99228
Greene90734
Choctaw58624
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