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Tuesday's Mini-Report, 11.6.18

11/06/18 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Every darn cycle: "Malfunctioning machines, voter confusion and locked polling sites were among the problems on Election Day as millions of Americans prepared to cast ballots Tuesday in a midterm election fueling an outpouring of enthusiasm -- and frustratingly long lines."

* Just in time: "Facebook blocked more than 100 accounts it believes may be engaging in 'coordinated inauthentic behavior' hours before the midterm elections, launching an investigation into whether the accounts are linked to any foreign entities attempting to interfere in the election."

* This seems like a thread worth pulling on: "China granted initial approval for 16 new trademarks to Ivanka Trump, the president's elder daughter and senior adviser, renewing questions about the Trump family's intermingling of official roles and international business interests. Among the broad array of trademarked items were shoes, shirts and sunglasses.... Other categories given initial approval were less obvious fits, like voting machines, homes for senior citizens and semiconductors."

* This name will be familiar to Rachel Maddow Show viewers: "Police in Monaco on Tuesday detained Russian tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev, who owns soccer club AS Monaco, for questioning as part of an investigation into corruption and influence peddling, newspaper Le Monde reported."

* Disputing rumors no one's heard always seems weird to me: "President Donald Trump used his first Twitter message of Election Day to hit back at a rumor he said was 'deception' on the part of Democrats that Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley left a campaign rally headlined by the president Monday night before it was over."

* No end to the nonsense: "Polls weren't even open yet in some parts of the country before Election Day hoaxes started taking off online. One fake video that's getting circulation on both Facebook and Twitter today purports to show CNN anchor Don Lemon laughing as Democrats burn flags in a celebration of the 'blue wave.'"

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Image: Donald Trump, Melania Trump, Barron Trump

Flubbing logic, Trump boasts, 'I've kept more promises than I've made'

11/06/18 01:10PM

Donald Trump has delivered more speeches in recent days than he's accustomed to giving, and the fatigue may have taken a toll on his messaging. For example, this was part of the president's pitch in Cleveland last night:

"Promises made, promises kept. You know, I've actually kept more promises than I've made. When did you ever hear that from a politician? Maybe never. Never."

Well, I imagine we've never heard that from a politician because it's literally impossible. Trump has kept more promises than he's made? Huh? A prerequisite to keeping a promise is making a promise.

Sure, plenty of his boasts are strange, but this one was a special treat because it failed as a matter of fact and logic.

Complicating matters, of course, is the fact that this isn't an area about which the president should feel confident. Indeed, as we discussed last month, the idea that Trump has honored his campaign pledges is folly.

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Tuesday's Campaign Round-Up, 11.6.18

11/06/18 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.

* Gallup doesn't do a lot of horse-race polling anymore, but its final pre-election survey found Democrats leading Republicans on the generic congressional ballot, 54% to 43%, among likely voters.

* At a rally in New Jersey yesterday, Republican Senate hopeful Bob Hugin was quoted saying, "This election is about who gets the vote out and who doesn't -- and I hope it rains hard tomorrow." It is, in fact, expected to rain across much of the East coast today.

* At Donald Trump's campaign rally in Missouri last night, the president was joined on stage by two Fox News hosts, Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro. Hannity, pointing to reporters covering the event -- including, presumably, journalists from his own network -- told the audience, "By the way, all those people in the back are fake news."

* Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who's retiring from Congress, and whose House seat is considered competitive, seemed to concede this morning that he expects to be replaced by a Democrat.

* Trump reportedly told the officials at his political operation that he "hated" their closing-message ad that focused on the economy, and instead wanted an anti-immigration message.

* Barack Obama made an unscheduled stop in Fairfax County, Virginia, yesterday, delivering doughnuts to a group of campaign staffers and volunteers working in support of Sen. Tim Kaine (D) and state Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D).

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Gov. Paul LePage brings his town hall tour to Portland, speaking at the Abromson Center at the University of Southern Maine on Dec. 8, 2015. An audience member holds up a sign as LePage leaves the room. (Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald/Getty)

After two terms as governor, LePage announces he's leaving Maine

11/06/18 11:21AM

It wasn't long ago when Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), eyeing the end of his two terms as the state's chief executive, announced his intention to run against Sen. Angus King (I). Facing inevitable defeat, the governor later backed off.

So, if Congress isn't the cards, what's LePage's next move? Evidently, he's running away from the state he's helped lead for eight years. The Portland Press Herald  reported yesterday:

Gov. Paul LePage said Monday that he plans to move to Florida for tax reasons and teach at a university there, regardless of who Mainers elect to succeed him.

"I'll be a resident of Florida if Janet Mills wins, I can promise you that," LePage, referring to the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, said with a smile one day before Maine voters head to the polls.

"I'll also be in Florida if Shawn Moody wins because I am going to retire and go to Florida," he said.

The governor went on to clarify that he intends to spend part of the year in Maine, but he would establish his legal residency in Florida, rather than the state he's served.

As Rachel joked yesterday, if LePage "had let Mainers know ahead of time that he was going to flee the state permanently as soon as he left office, that might have shed helpful light on some of his governing decisions."

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U.S. Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham speaks at the the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Forum in Des Moines, Ia., Sept. 19, 2015. (Photo by Brian C. Frank/Reuters)

On jobs, Republicans pick the wrong fight at the wrong time

11/06/18 10:43AM

Over the weekend, Ronna Romney McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, proclaimed that the economy is adding more jobs per month under Donald Trump than under Barack Obama. To arrive at this, the RNC chair had to play a misleading game: she counted the early months of the Obama presidency, when the Great Recession -- which began more than a year before Obama took office -- was still causing the economy to hemorrhage jobs.

In other words, McDaniel peddled a line that included a kernel of truth, but which was fundamentally misleading. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). perhaps enjoying his status as a partisan celebrity a bit too much, abandoned the pretense of accuracy altogether yesterday.

"If [Barack Obama's] jobs numbers were anywhere close to what we're talking about with President [Donald Trump], the media would stop the Earth from rotating to make sure everybody heard about it!"

In one unfortunate tweet, Republican senator managed to tie together a falsehood, whining about the media, and shameless Trump flattery. I'm sure the White House was delighted.

But no one else should be. Ahead of the election, Republicans haven't done much to emphasize the economy -- the GOP strategy is based almost entirely on fear -- but when they turn to jobs, they insist that Trump's record trumps Obama's.

That's not even close to being true. Let's dig into the available data.

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A man holds a sign directing people to an insurance company where they can sign up for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare in Miami, Fla in 2015. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty)

Trump's amusing new warning: Dems might 'obliterate Obamacare'

11/06/18 09:40AM

Republican audiences have heard Donald Trump repeat a standard line in his 2018 stump speech: "If Democrats gain power, they'll also be planning a takeover of American health care and that would be socialism, what they want to do. The Democrat plan would obliterate Medicare." Just over the last week, the president has repeated this, practically word for word, in West Virginia, Indiana, Montana, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and Indiana.

The rhetoric is, of course, wrong -- and not altogether coherent. Expanding Medicare to include the rest of the country is not "obliterating" the system. For that matter, it's odd to hear the Republican pretend to champion Medicare and condemn Medicare as "socialism" at the same time.

Last night in Missouri, however, Trump switched things up a bit. From the transcript:

"If Democrats gain power on Tuesday, one of their very first projects will be a socialist takeover of American health care. You know what's happening. And your taxes are going to triple, maybe quadruple. You're not going to be happy. I know you well.

"The Democrat plan would obliterate Obamacare. It will also -- which is good -- but leave the bad parts behind."

Yes, on the eve of a critical midterm election cycle, Donald Trump warned voters that Democrats intend to tear down their own health care law, which the president has spent much of the last two years trying to tear down.

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White House ally sees Team Trump's indictments as out of bounds

11/06/18 08:40AM

At a campaign event in Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago, Barack Obama took a moment to reflect on what Donald Trump and his team promised the nation two years ago, and compare that to what the Republican administration has delivered.

"They promised to take on corruption. Remember that?" the former president said. "They have gone to Washington and just plundered away. In Washington, they have racked up enough indictments to field a football team. Nobody in my administration got indicted. So how is it that they cleaned things up?"

The rhetoric generated spirited applause, so Obama has repeated this, practically word for word, at other events.

Marc Short, up until recently Donald Trump's director of legislative affairs, appeared on CNN yesterday and told co-host Alisyn Camerota that Obama's rhetoric should be seen as out of bounds.

CAMEROTA: What incendiary, toxic language is Barack Obama using?

SHORT: He's talking about the rationale -- so many people in the Trump administration having indictments as never before, that this is an unusual --

CAMEROTA: That's true.

Wait, joking about Team Trump's many indictments has somehow become an example of "toxic" rhetoric?

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U.S. President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss transition plans in the White House Oval Office in Washington, Nov. 10, 2016. (Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Why Trump took a renewed interest in Barack Obama's middle name

11/06/18 08:00AM

The U.S. Senate race in Indiana this year is among this year's most competitive and closely watched contests, so it wasn't surprising to learn that Donald Trump would travel to Indianapolis to rally support for Mike Braun (R), ahead of Barack Obama's visit to the state to boost incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly (D).

But the way in which the current president acknowledged his immediate predecessor was a little unusual.

Trump also criticized Donnelly for planning to campaign with former President Barack Obama in northwest Indiana this Sunday. Obama won the state in 2008 but lost in 2012.

"It is no surprise that Joe Donnelly is holding a rally this week with Barack H. Obama," Trump said, using his finger to draw the "H," which stands for "Hussein," in the air as he spoke.

The video of the moment helps drive the point home.

It obviously only lasted a few seconds, but Trump managed to say quite a bit by focusing on a single letter. The Republican president, even now, still sees political value in tactics like these. Pointing out Barack Obama's middle name, in Trump's mind, serves to denigrate his predecessor, criticize officials like Donnelly, and perhaps most importantly, generate excitement among GOP voters.

There's a lot of this going around. A Washington Post  analysis added yesterday, "President Trump appears to be banking on his party retaining control of the Senate or even gaining seats. To do so, and presumably in an effort to goose Republican turnout broadly in hopes of averting disaster in the House, he is increasingly surfacing an often-submerged bit of political rhetoric: Vote Republican to protect white America."

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