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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: 295295

Reported Deaths: 6724
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19672230
Hinds18799386
Harrison16710278
Rankin12685264
Jackson12592226
Lee9687160
Madison9457199
Jones7962146
Forrest7208136
Lauderdale6833226
Lowndes6022137
Lamar588080
Lafayette5733113
Washington5218130
Bolivar4609123
Oktibbeha441393
Panola430394
Pearl River4167130
Warren4129114
Pontotoc408869
Marshall403192
Monroe3989126
Union395374
Neshoba3807168
Lincoln3541102
Hancock347374
Leflore3375118
Sunflower318386
Tate302474
Pike300195
Scott293870
Alcorn291861
Itawamba289975
Yazoo289262
Tippah278765
Copiah277857
Coahoma277568
Simpson274878
Prentiss269758
Wayne253841
Marion252678
Leake252471
Covington248879
Grenada247377
Adams234377
George231745
Newton229652
Winston221675
Jasper213445
Tishomingo212365
Attala206569
Chickasaw201151
Holmes182270
Clay179150
Stone172429
Tallahatchie170539
Clarke169371
Calhoun157828
Smith152731
Yalobusha144836
Greene127633
Walthall124140
Noxubee122829
Montgomery122438
Perry121634
Lawrence120321
Carroll118225
Amite111533
Webster110630
Jefferson Davis101731
Tunica99023
Claiborne98429
Benton93324
Humphreys92827
Kemper90223
Quitman77114
Franklin76119
Choctaw69516
Jefferson62527
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 493769

Reported Deaths: 9931
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson710731374
Mobile36139727
Madison32425455
Tuscaloosa24184410
Montgomery22586500
Shelby21968215
Baldwin19758283
Lee14967153
Morgan13667251
Calhoun13300286
Etowah13184319
Marshall11262209
Houston10104261
Elmore9385185
Limestone9363134
Cullman8897181
St. Clair8827223
Lauderdale8607211
DeKalb8459175
Talladega7523163
Walker6524255
Jackson6495102
Autauga627091
Blount6102127
Colbert6004118
Coffee5249102
Dale4642107
Russell404930
Franklin399177
Covington3960106
Chilton3876100
Escambia377672
Tallapoosa3588142
Clarke343650
Chambers3413110
Dallas3403141
Pike293472
Lawrence283484
Marion281995
Winston246867
Bibb245060
Geneva239970
Marengo236455
Pickens224654
Barbour211651
Hale210568
Fayette200756
Butler196866
Henry182441
Cherokee177038
Monroe166139
Randolph163740
Washington156535
Crenshaw144854
Clay144454
Macon142043
Cleburne137839
Lamar132833
Lowndes131151
Wilcox121825
Bullock116936
Conecuh106724
Perry105627
Sumter98531
Coosa88923
Greene88232
Choctaw55123
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