Trump slams 'crazy, lunatic' constitutional amendment in midterm endgame

President Donald Trump is slamming the constitutionally protected provision of birthright citizenship as a "...

Posted: Nov 2, 2018 2:24 PM
Updated: Nov 2, 2018 2:24 PM

President Donald Trump is slamming the constitutionally protected provision of birthright citizenship as a "crazy, lunatic policy" in an incendiary endgame to the midterm election campaign, which could save the Senate but risks putting the House beyond reach.

With four days to go, Trump is riding the strategy on which he has effectively bet his presidency -- a refusal to broaden his coalition and incessant appeals to his base -- into its biggest test so far. Yet his approach risks alienating more moderate voters in tight House races.

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RELATED: Numbers to know about birthright citizenship

In one example of his all-in play to his most loyal supporters, Trump issued a new attack on the 14th Amendment, which guarantees that even children born on US soil to undocumented immigrants are American citizens, at a rally Thursday night in Missouri. The President has dubiously argued he has the power to override the provision with an executive order.

And a day after unveiling the most racist national political ad in a generation, Trump vowed tough restrictions on asylum and turned his attention to consolidating GOP power in a trip to Missouri to support one of his proteges, Josh Hawley, who is well placed to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

The President even said that the US troops he plans to dispatch to the border to address what he claims is a national crisis could turn their guns on members of a migrant group -- currently hundreds of miles away in Mexico -- if they threw rocks at the troops.

"Democrats want open borders and want to invite caravan after caravan into our country," Trump told the euphoric, fired-up crowd, which lapped up his fiery rhetoric on immigration and chanted "Build that wall! Build that wall!" in a display of the potency of the issue among the President's base.

The unusually distinct races for the two chambers of Congress this year mean that a scorched earth message that works well in Senate races in Trump country may backfire in House contests in more moderate territory.

But in the final days of the campaign, the President has escalated rhetorical assaults on undocumented immigrants and the traveling migrant group to new heights, delighting base voters but infuriating Republicans in swing districts and GOP strategists worried about the House.

That, and a travel schedule that appears to be mostly geared to getting red state Senate candidates over the line and toppling vulnerable Democrats, suggests the President can read the polls just as well as anyone else.

Most pundits are staying away from predictions after Trump's shock win over Hillary Clinton in 2016. But a majority of models suggest the most likely outcome on Tuesday is that Democrats take the House and Republicans keep control of the Senate or even increase their majority by a couple of seats.

CNN's Harry Enten assesses in his forecast that Democrats will win 225 seats -- and the House majority -- while Republicans will fall to 210 seats. A Democratic win of 202 seats or 262 seats is within the margin of error.

Republicans will hold 52 seats -- and keep the majority -- in the Senate, while Democrats will hold just 48, according to Enten's analysis. Anything between Republicans holding 48 seats and 56 seats is within the margin of error.

Using presidential symbolism to sell a campaign message

Trump has been flinging flaming campaign trail attacks on immigration for days.

But on Thursday he chose the ornate surroundings of the Roosevelt Room of the White House, often the venue for solemn state announcements, for what was billed as a major policy announcement on asylum.

Yet what followed was a meandering speech, packed with misrepresentations and falsehoods, that lacked the big new plan that White House officials had promised -- other than a vague undertaking to issue an executive order next week.

It was the latest indication that Trump's improvisational and politically motivated pronouncements often have his policy team struggling to catch up. The same thing happened when the President suddenly pledged last month to unveil a middle-class tax cut in the next few weeks -- even though Congress, which has the power of the purse -- was not in session at the time.

The White House has since signaled there will be no movement on tax cuts until January at the earliest.

In place of a major new policy proposal on asylum, the President cranked up the demagoguery, suggesting US troops could actually open fire on members of a migrant group if they ever reach the border.

"They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back," Trump said. "When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I say consider it a rifle," he said, setting out a scenario that is unlikely to come to pass and one of disproportionate force.

His warning alarmed former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, who served as secretary of defense in the Obama administration.

"My reaction ... is one of disgust. That is a wanton incitement of unnecessary violence. It is a distraction, It is a distortion, it is a rank political purpose to use our military like this," Hagel told CNN's Jake Tapper.

"Not in my lifetime have I ever heard those kind of words from a President of the United States."

Trump also said the military was building tent cities for detained migrants, when military officials have said no such construction is underway. He also falsely claimed that his administration has started building his famed border wall, taking credit for an existing project by the federal government to replace one section of fence with a wall.

His latest escalation followed his tweet promoting a campaign video on Wednesday night that effectively equated the Central Americans in the traveling migrant group with a convicted murderer who killed two California deputies.

Hardcore message undercuts Republicans in tight House battles

The President's incessant, incendiary focus on immigration is frustrating some of his fellow Republicans, who have the fate of the House, especially, in mind.

Rep. Ryan Costello, a moderate from Pennsylvania who is retiring after the election, warned that Trump's message could be the last straw for endangered GOP House members.

"I think closing on doom and gloom and scaring people over immigration, that is not going to bring home undecided voters in swing districts," Costello told CNN's Lauren Fox.

"I can't imagine anybody in a close district wants the closing argument to be immigration," Costello said. "Your local message is in competition with what the President is talking about."

Other Trump supporters are frustrated that the President is not talking exclusively about the economy, which grew at 3.5% in the third quarter, has taken the unemployment rate to a 50-year low of 3.7% and has promoted soaring business and consumer confidence.

New jobless figures are expected to give Trump a further boost on Friday with the final release of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics before the election.

But the President has clearly made a decision on the most profitable way to end his campaign -- and he has opted to be true to the populist, politically incorrect persona that won him the White House in the first place.

It's possible the House was already out of reach, given his approval rating in the mid-40s, the fact that many vulnerable GOP lawmakers are running in districts that Clinton won and historical portents that suggest first-term presidents always struggle in the midterm elections.

New polling from CNN suggests that in Trump country at least, his instincts for what his voters want are shrewd.

Among likely Republican Senate voters in Florida, immigration is now an important issue for 33% of voters, up from 22% in mid-October, before he hit on his flaming midterm election closing argument.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314509

Reported Deaths: 7247
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21626259
Hinds20359415
Harrison17934309
Rankin13634278
Jackson13447246
Madison10099217
Lee9980174
Jones8381163
Forrest7683152
Lauderdale7191241
Lowndes6401147
Lamar623086
Lafayette6200118
Washington5339134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462798
Panola4588107
Pearl River4512146
Marshall4443103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420772
Monroe4113133
Union411076
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3968110
Hancock379386
Leflore3497125
Sunflower336090
Tate334084
Pike3325105
Scott315973
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311669
Itawamba300477
Copiah297065
Coahoma295479
Simpson295288
Tippah288768
Adams286882
Prentiss279760
Marion269280
Leake268373
Wayne262641
Grenada261487
Covington259681
George248048
Newton246861
Winston227281
Tishomingo226967
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw207857
Holmes189173
Clay185454
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178841
Clarke178080
Calhoun170832
Yalobusha164338
Smith162434
Walthall133945
Greene130633
Lawrence128624
Montgomery126942
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton99525
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83823
Quitman80916
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67331
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 532895

Reported Deaths: 11001
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson771431528
Mobile41089808
Madison34837505
Tuscaloosa25810454
Montgomery24355588
Shelby23730249
Baldwin21191309
Lee15892171
Calhoun14522316
Morgan14324279
Etowah13861353
Marshall12250223
Houston10581281
Elmore10060205
Limestone9986151
Cullman9705194
St. Clair9702243
Lauderdale9441242
DeKalb8846187
Talladega8255176
Walker7246277
Autauga6938108
Jackson6815112
Blount6694137
Colbert6310134
Coffee5524119
Dale4850111
Russell443238
Chilton4308112
Franklin426282
Covington4136118
Tallapoosa4039152
Escambia393977
Chambers3578123
Dallas3557152
Clarke351161
Marion3130101
Pike311377
Lawrence300798
Winston275673
Bibb261564
Geneva251477
Marengo249664
Pickens234761
Barbour231756
Hale223277
Butler216469
Fayette212562
Henry189044
Cherokee184745
Randolph181742
Monroe178040
Washington167639
Macon159950
Clay156857
Crenshaw152757
Cleburne149141
Lamar142935
Lowndes139053
Wilcox127130
Bullock122841
Conecuh110629
Coosa107928
Perry107826
Sumter104832
Greene92534
Choctaw61124
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