Will Trump speak out on Rep. King's controversial comments?

Republicans begin turning on Iowa Rep. Steve King, Black leaders in South Carolina wonder why Joe Biden isn't calling, the president appears in no rush to replace departed Cabinet members, and Mike Pence isn't winning many fans with his handling of the budget standoff. It's all on Inside Politics.

Posted: Jan 14, 2019 8:07 AM
Updated: Jan 14, 2019 8:29 AM

Here are the stories our panel of top political reporters will be watching for in the year ahead, in this week's "Inside Politics" forecast.

1. Steve King's future

Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa has a history of making racially inflammatory remarks. But his fellow Republicans may finally have had enough.

In an interview last week with The New York Times, King said, "white nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization -- how did that language become offensive?"

"Steve King has been in Congress for 15 years. He's been making comments like this for quite some time," New York Times congressional correspondent Julie Hirschfeld Davis said. "But Republicans now are coming forward and saying this is unacceptable. You have Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader. Steve Scalise, the Republican whip, saying he has to apologize for this."

Several other GOP lawmakers have spoken out as well. But King's future in Congress could rest in President Donald Trump's hands.

"President Trump was very close with Steve King from the very beginning, before he declared his candidacy," Davis said. "Steve King was talking about a border wall long before Donald Trump was talking about a border wall. And obviously President Trump has faced some of the same questions about his rhetoric. So it will be very interesting to see how the President deals with this. There's going to be mounting pressure for the president to say something."

2. The Party of Trump

Will Trump face a 2020 primary challenge?

Before we know the answer, the Republican National Committee may officially endorse his re-nomination.

"The fact that the RNC could be considering this really shows that there's real nervousness among Republicans about the prospect of a primary challenge," said Associated Press Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace. "If the RNC does come out and formally endorse him, it would make it all the more difficult for a Republican challenger to use any kind of party apparatus, to get on the stage with Trump in a debate in the primary."

The last president to face a serious primary challenge: George H.W. Bush in 1992. Many say it contributed to his re-election loss to Bill Clinton.

"It would be almost impossible for a Republican primary challenger to defeat Trump in 2020," Pace said. "But there is real worry that they could at least beat him up, damage him and weaken him going into the general election."

3. Joe Biden & the black vote

Meanwhile on the Democratic side, former Vice President Joe Biden is still weighing whether to run. And his indecision may cost him in a key early primary state.

"Joe Biden is beloved in South Carolina, particularly by African-American Democrats, but they had some pretty harsh words to say about him," CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson said.

"He isn't showing any sense of urgency. He hasn't really reached out to many folks in South Carolina. They have no idea what he's going to do," Henderson said.

Other candidates are taking advantage of Biden's absence.

"They've heard from Elizabeth Warren, they've heard from Cory Booker. They've even heard from (Democratic Oregon Sen.) Jeff Merkley," Henderson said. "So there is a lot of frustration on the ground in a state like South Carolina, where black Democrats are going to be so important. Many say if you are Joe Biden, that might be the first state you actually want to compete in and could actually win. But so far they feel like he's letting a little grass grow under his feet as others really work hard and show a sense of urgency."

4. Trump's "acting" Cabinet

Back in Washington, Trump is slowly shaking up his Cabinet. But while many top officials have left, few have actually been replaced.

"At the only Cabinet meeting so far of 2019, President Trump was seated next to an acting secretary of defense and an acting secretary of interior," Wall Street Journal White House reporter Michael Bender said. "Across from him is the acting attorney general. To the right is the acting head of the White House Budget Office. And he's acting because the former White House budget chief is now acting chief of staff."

Bender said Trump is in no rush to name permanent replacements.

"There's a thought in the Oval Office that these acting chiefs are more beholden to the President," Bender said.

5. VP shutdown shade

And from CNN's chief national correspondent John King:

Most of the Republican frustration about a shutdown without a clear exit strategy is directed at Trump.

But among Republicans on Capitol Hill and at GOP-leaning organizations across Washington, there is also a good deal of grumbling about Vice President Mike Pence.

On the Hill, the biggest beef is that Pence was apparently clueless to the fact the President would pull a last-minute about-face and refuse to sign a government spending bill that did not include funding for his border wall. Both House and Senate GOP leaders had made clear they viewed a shutdown as a major political mistake, and the vice president was a constant presence at the Capitol as Congress put together the pre-shutdown spending plan.

The VP and his office are also a frequent point of contact for GOP establishment groups that do not like the President or are viewed suspiciously by him. Many of those groups feel blindsided, too, and see it as proof the vice president has limited influence and isn't afforded much respect by the boss.

"He may be permanently damaged by this two-week period," said one veteran GOP strategist who advises a number of lawmakers and organizations.

Some of this grumbling is without a doubt unfair or exaggerated and comes amid a broader GOP bad mood about the shutdown and the Democrats' rise to power in the House of Representatives. Plus, the VP takes some of the hits for the grumbling over the decision by his former chief of staff, Nick Ayers, to leave the White House instead of stepping in as the President's new chief of staff.

Still, several GOP operatives mentioned Pence unfavorably in exchanges about the shutdown and GOP anxiety with the White House. Their view, at a minimum, is that a vice president very conscious about his standing in the party and his own political future should realize this is a low moment.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61125

Reported Deaths: 1711
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5269106
DeSoto332627
Madison229756
Harrison215232
Rankin214628
Jackson199434
Jones177457
Forrest164053
Washington149232
Lauderdale132988
Lee123930
Neshoba119788
Lamar112112
Oktibbeha105435
Lowndes98932
Warren96427
Scott95517
Bolivar94832
Copiah91724
Panola91211
Sunflower90822
Lafayette88111
Holmes84747
Leflore84059
Pike83232
Grenada81320
Yazoo78611
Leake76825
Lincoln74540
Pontotoc7377
Wayne73321
Simpson71227
Monroe70250
Coahoma66310
Tate65023
Marion60118
Covington58811
Adams58425
Marshall5718
Winston57115
George5475
Union53113
Newton51611
Attala49824
Tallahatchie49310
Pearl River48536
Walthall45318
Chickasaw43819
Noxubee41910
Claiborne40013
Smith38013
Calhoun3788
Jasper3768
Clay37013
Alcorn3574
Prentiss3426
Hancock33614
Tishomingo3204
Lawrence3135
Tippah31212
Yalobusha31210
Itawamba30710
Clarke30025
Montgomery2933
Tunica2786
Humphreys27111
Carroll24511
Greene22611
Quitman2251
Kemper22315
Perry2227
Amite2105
Jefferson Davis2026
Webster19912
Jefferson1936
Wilkinson18712
Sharkey1801
Stone1523
Choctaw1274
Benton1250
Franklin1162
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 90890

Reported Deaths: 1611
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson11859225
Mobile9086191
Montgomery6249143
Madison501425
Tuscaloosa397463
Baldwin321023
Shelby305032
Marshall296630
Unassigned273453
Lee250540
Morgan222315
Etowah193026
DeKalb170113
Elmore160237
Calhoun15609
Walker147063
Houston131912
Dallas128823
Russell12331
St. Clair121712
Franklin119620
Limestone119613
Cullman114111
Colbert109312
Lauderdale107112
Autauga102420
Escambia97915
Talladega91813
Jackson8283
Chambers82138
Tallapoosa81478
Dale78520
Butler75235
Blount7363
Chilton7106
Coffee7095
Covington70920
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55224
Marion54224
Marengo52014
Clarke4869
Hale45926
Bullock43811
Perry4294
Winston42911
Wilcox4059
Monroe3914
Randolph38810
Bibb3743
Conecuh37310
Pickens3679
Sumter36118
Lawrence3100
Washington31011
Macon30913
Crenshaw2863
Choctaw27412
Henry2453
Cherokee2427
Greene24211
Geneva2320
Clay2175
Lamar1982
Fayette1745
Cleburne1211
Coosa922
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