Donald Trump Is Delivering On His Promises And Voters Are Noticing

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-N.Y.) have told their fellow Democrats to stop talking about impeaching President Trumpbecause they have come to understand the talk is not helping them with independents and is doing nothing to separate the president from his enthusiastic base of support.

Yes, among Democrats, 71 percent want to see the president impeached if Democrats win control of the House. But among independents — the key swing votes Democrats must attract to retake either house of Congress — 54 percent say they oppose impeachment.

But the most ignored figure in that poll is perhaps the most important. Among Republicans, 92 percent oppose impeachment — an indication of the enduring, unflagging support the president has enjoyed from those in his party.

They have stuck with him throughout. In October 2017, when Trump’s job approval rating was at 35 percent, the lowest of his presidency, 82 percent of those who voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election said they would vote for him again.

Neither the Stormy Daniels saga, buoyed by $175 million in free media for her attorney, nor the Russia collusion investigation has done anything to harm Trump’s standing with his supporters, according to a recent USA TODAY Trump voter panel.

Trump’s supporters see him as a man who keeps his promises and disrupts the swamp.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at The Hill

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'But My Emails': Clinton Mocks Comey For Use Of Private Email For FBI Business

Former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had only three words to say in response to the Justice Department inspector general's report on the FBI's handling of her email investigation, "But my emails."

Clinton's tweet was at once a dig at her Republican critics' fixation on the email affair and a jab at former FBI Director James Comey, who used a private Gmail account to conduct official FBI business.

According to the inspector general's report, Comey used a personal email account "on numerous occasions" to conduct official business. Inspector General Michael Horowitz and his team dinged Comey saying the frequency of his behavior was "inconsistent with the DOJ Policy Statement" regarding the use of personal email for official business.

Clinton seized on this detail buried 400 pages into the report to troll the former FBI director who she still blames for her 2016 election loss. As recently as April, Clinton described Comey's decision to send a letter to Congress announcing the reopening of the investigation days before the election. as "the single event that changed people's votes."

If there was a lesson from the three-year saga that originated with three email servers in Chappaqua, New York, James Comey apparently missed it, said Republican strategist Ford O'Connell.

"It is ironic," he noted. "The obvious lesson is, if you're a government official you should know what you should be communicating on and you should also know what is classified and what isn't."

Comey told the inspector general that he did not use his personal email or laptop for classified information. According to Comey's former chief of staff, James Rybicki, Comey began using the personal email account at about the time he became FBI director in 2013.

Clinton's jab at Comey was an attempt at a clever response to the IG report, O'Connell noted, "but it is proof that she still hasn't understood what the whole brouhaha was about, nor does she seem to care.

Read more from Leandra Bernstein at Circa

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GOP Primaries Highlight Trump Supporters' Fierce Loyalty, But No Guarantee Of Midterm Win

This week's U.S. Republican primaries underscored the loyalty of U.S. President Donald Trump's supporters, despite over a year of controversy since he clinched the White House.

Experts said this is a good sign for the Republican Party (GOP) in the upcoming midterm elections, although it won't ensure their victory, as Democrats are highly motivated by their animosity toward the president.

"When the base of the Republican Party and the White House are walking in lock step, that's a great sign, heading into the 2018 midterms, where the GOP faces stiff headwinds in terms of trying to hold the House," Republican Strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua, speaking of the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

While Trump over the past year has faced opposition from a number of establishment lawmakers in his own party, the GOP base has stuck with the president, who was a big winner in Tuesday's primary races.

Indeed, Trump has the second highest "own party" approval rating since WWII, at this stage of his term, second only to former President George W. Bush, according to a Gallup poll released earlier this month. Bush saw popularity from his own party surge through the roof after showing strong leadership in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000 people.

That matters a great deal for Trump, "because in mid-term elections, 40 million fewer voters vote. And therefore, it becomes who can better turn out their base," O'Connell said.

"As long as the Republican base sees Trump as a tireless fighter who delivers, the Republicans have a chance to hold the House and make gains in the Senate," O'Connell said.

Experts say that Trump now rules the GOP, and Republican lawmakers who stand against him will feel his wrath. That was evident earlier this week when GOP voters booted out incumbent Congressman Mark Sanford in Tuesday's primary elections.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua

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Dems Seek To Leverage ObamaCare Fight For Midterms

Democrats are seizing on the Trump administration’s push in court to overturn ObamaCare’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, hoping to leverage the issue ahead of November’s midterm elections as some Republicans rush to distance themselves from the move.

The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to join a legal battle arguing that one of the most popular parts of ObamaCare should be struck down is being viewed by Democrats as a political gift, with the party apparatus quickly using the issue to attack GOP candidates and rally their base.

Ever since the DOJ joined 20 GOP-led states last week in arguing against the measure, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has been sending out a drumbeat of press releases asking Republican Senate candidates where they stand on the administration’s arguments.

Democrats are also highlighting the fact that Patrick Morrisey, who is challenging Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in West Virginia, and Josh Hawley, who is challenging Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in Missouri, are two of the Republican state attorneys general who brought the lawsuit against ObamaCare in the first place.

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell noted that the Trump administration’s move to argue against the ObamaCare measure in court could put vulnerable Republican incumbents at risk.

“What McConnell is trying to do is protect his Senate majority, and this issue could put folks in jeopardy like Dean Heller,” O’Connell said, referring to the Republican senator from Nevada.

“One of the top issues that fires up Democrats is health care, and obviously pre-existing conditions is popular with independents,” the GOP strategist added. “It may not be the best time to bring this up.”

Read more from Peter Sullivan at The Hill

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Singapore Summit Gives Trump High Approval Ratings Ahead Of Midterms

The historic Singapore summit provided President Trump some political capital ahead of this year’s midterm elections.

According to a Reuters poll published on Wednesday, over half of Americans approve of President Trump’s handling of North Korea. Of the 400 Democrats and 400 Republicans surveyed, 51 percent acknowledged the president’s role in bringing North Korea to the negotiating room—with 39 percent believing the summit lowered the threat of nuclear war between the two countries.

“We are not talking about preemptive nuclear strikes today. We are further from nuclear war than a week ago,” Ford O’Connell, a professor of political management at George Washington University and the managing director of Civic Forum Strategies, told Observer. “This is a good thing in the base of his party.”

Ahead of the Singapore gathering, another poll released by the University of Maryland showed a third of Americans—including 17 percent of independents—saying the lead up to the summit “gave them a more positive view of Trump, compared with 14 percent who said it created more negative feelings.”

“One of the reasons being put out as a reason not to vote for him, was his lack of foreign policy knowledge,” explained O’Connell. “What we’re seeing here is that foreign policy, at least at this juncture, is not the weakness for him that many thought it would be. In many ways he’s trying different things, particularly on trade. A lot of people don’t like the tactics he’s taking, but they are interested in the possible results he could be getting.”

“Essentially, the takeaway is: ‘Here’s someone who tried a different approach to an intractable problem where we failed on previous occasions.’ Overall, as of now, it is a net plus,” added the professor.

Read more from Davis Richardson at the Observer

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Trump Cheers Republican Senate Candidate Who Has Called An Anti-Semite His Hero

Virginia Republicans voted to nominate a Senate candidate with deep connections to white supremacists and anti-Muslim coalitions Tuesday evening. Corey Stewart, a former gubernatorial candidate, confederate statue defender and praiser of anti-Semites clinched the nomination in a fairly close race. He will now run against incumbent Democratic Senator Tim Kaine in the general election. 

President Donald Trump praised the outcome in a tweet Wednesday morning. “Congratulations to Corey Stewart for his great victory for Senator from Virginia,” he wrote. “Now he runs against a total stiff, Tim Kaine, who is weak on crime and borders, and wants to raise your taxes through the roof. Don’t underestimate Corey, a major chance of winning!”

Stewart has called Republican congressional candidate Paul Nehlen his “personal hero.” Nehlen’s campaign has posted anti-Semitic memes, tweeted out a list of Jewish journalists, and promoted a book by neo-Nazi Kevin MacDonald.

A number of white nationalists are running for Republican party bids across the country, but most of them have little to no chance at the actual nomination. Republican strategist Ford O’Connell says that Stewart’s win doesn’t suggest a change in that trend.

“The number one thing when running in a primary is name identification, and Stewart has that from running for governor,” he explained. “In terms of setting a national precedent, you’ve got battles all over the country and people aren’t paying that much attention to the Virginia race.”

“You’d see more uproar on the Republican side if this were a race that Republicans had a fighting chance on,” explained O’Connell. “Republicans nationally won't talk about this and outside of media markets in Washington D.C., Democrats won’t talk about it either.”

Still, Trump’s endorsement of Stewart carries some weight. “Stewart has been a dogged supporter of Trump and the president understands that you have to reward those who have been loyal,” said O’Connell. “The thing with Stewart is that he fires up the base and the more base voters you can turn out the better; maybe Democrats will have to spend some money defending Kaine.”

O’Connell, who worked as an adviser to Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, says that there is no moral dilemma when it comes to Trump supporting Stewart publicly. “We’re in an era where the rules are out the window—right now both sides are just trying to win,” he said. “Republicans have tried the Romney strategy and it didn’t work, and now they’re just going to try to throw up anything at the wall and see what sticks.”

Read more from Nicole Goodkind at Newsweek

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Trump Must Show Resolve, Caution With North Korea: U.S. Republicans

If U.S. President Donald Trump believes his meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un was “a very great moment in the history of the world,” leaders from his own Republican Party were much more skeptical on Tuesday after the summit.

They widely praised Trump for taking the bold step of sitting down to talk with Kim, but voiced concern about the vagueness of the agreement that resulted and the president’s lavish praise for the North Korean leader.

In much more measured tones than the president’s ebullience about the meeting, Republican lawmakers urged Trump to be vigilant in moving forward.

For Trump, with congressional elections approaching in November and Republican majority control of both chambers of the U.S. Congress at stake, the fast-evolving relationship with Kim presents both political opportunity and peril.

While it was difficult to tell immediately whether Trump’s performance in Singapore would influence congressional campaigns already underway, it was clear that Republicans were not fully embracing Trump’s enthusiasm for Kim.

Foreign policy can impact midterm elections for Congress, although domestic affairs more typically dominate such contests.

With months of protracted negotiations likely ahead, it was unclear whether Trump’s push on North Korea would boost Republicans’ standing in the midterms.

Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist in Washington, said Trump’s efforts could persuade uncommitted voters concerned with national security that Trump is trying to make the world safer.

“Meeting with North Korea is not going to hack off independent voters,” O’Connell said. “They’re going to look favorably on it.”

Read more from Patricia Zengerle and James Oliphant at Reuters

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Three Virginia Republicans Running For Senate Use Different Tactics To Chase Trump Base

The three Virginia Republicans vying to square off against Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine have taken three distinct approaches to mobilizing the state’s pro-Trump Republican base ahead of Tuesday’s primary.

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart has billed himself as the only true pro-Trump candidate, saying people want a “Republican with balls” and launching attention-grabbing stunts such as waving toilet paper outside the state Capitol to criticize fellow Republicans.

State Delegate Nick Freitas has been more muted, saying he supports key aspects of the president’s agenda but that senators don’t sign a “loyalty oath,” and that he is the candidate who can be trusted to advocate for reducing the size and scope of government.

Chesapeake Bishop E.W. Jackson, the only black candidate in the race, said his background can pull together the broad coalition that will be needed to deliver Republicans their first statewide election win in an increasingly diverse Virginia in nearly a decade.

Polling has shown a good number of voters are still undecided, but Mr. Stewart — who nearly won the Republican nomination for governor last year over Republican nominee Ed Gillespie — has led Mr. Freitas and Mr. Jackson in terms of name identification, which could be critical in a potentially low-turnout primary contest Tuesday.

Republicans will also have to overcome a rabid anti-Trump fervor in the Democratic base — which helped propel Ralph Northam over Mr. Gillespie in the governor’s race last year and a number of Democrats in statehouse races — if they want to pick up their first win in a major statewide race since 2009.

“This is no longer a purple state,” said Republican Party strategist Ford O’Connell. “[Mr. Kaine‘s] definitely sitting in the catbird seat.”

Read more from David Sherfinski at the Washington Times

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The White House Isn't Giving Up On 'Spygate'

President Trump and his allies are pushing back against the notion that “Spygate” — their preferred framing of a key moment in the Trump-Russia investigation — is fading in importance after some frequent defenders of the president cast doubt on the story.

Sources close to the White House contend that surveillance of the Trump campaign remains a legitimate issue and the president was right to demand the Justice Department’s inspector general investigate.

Spygate is Trump’s name for the FBI’s use of at least one confidential informant to make contact with members of his campaign during the 2016 presidential election. “The corrupt Mainstream Media is working overtime not to mention the infiltration of people, Spies (Informants), into my campaign!” Trump tweeted last week. “Surveillance much?”

The biggest development was House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., one of the nine lawmakers and five Republicans briefed on the issue by the Justice Department at the White House, defending the FBI in an apparent break with GOP legislators who had been raising questions about the Russia probe.

Gowdy won praise from Democrats and typically anti-Trump editorial boards. The Washington Post called him “one senior Republican with enough decency to admit the obvious.” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said there was “still cause for concern” and her deputy Hogan Gidley told reporters aboard Air Force One that Gowdy and Trump agreed “there's still not one shred of information that has anything to do with Russia collusion, obstruction of any kind.”

“Just because one influential Capitol Hill Republican who is about to retire says the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign was kosher, doesn’t make it so,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “There are simply too many outstanding questions, ranging from who ordered it to when it was ordered to why it was ordered to why Donald Trump wasn’t briefed about it for Gowdy’s assertions to be accepted as gospel.”

“Let’s also not forget Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, was fired for misconduct,” O’Connell said. “So, the Spygate drumbeat marches on until further notice.”

Read more from W. James Antle III at the Washington Examiner

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Eric Holder's Heading To New Hampshire. Will A Presidential Run Follow?

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is headed to New Hampshire for the political hot breakfast that is a first stop for many presidential hopefuls — but political observers in both parties say he’d be a long shot.

Holder, who served as attorney general for six of former President Barack Obama’s eight years in office, will be the featured speaker at Saint Anselm College’s “Politics & Eggs” breakfast today. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton broke bread there in 2015 ahead of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation 2016 primary, and more recently Ohio Gov. John Kasich — a potential Trump challenger in 2020 — put in an appearance there.

Holder’s appearance is a sign that he’s considering throwing his hat in the ring for the 2020 presidential race, Boston University political science professor Thomas Whalen said.

Republican consultant Ford O’Connell said the lack of a Democratic front-runner could draw in several dozen candidates — which would mean potential candidates with strong name recognition, like Vermont Sen. Sanders or former Vice President Joe Biden, would only need a small majority to win in a crowded field.

“It’s hard to see how he breaks through without a direct endorsement from Obama,” O’Connell said. “Right now I look at him as a second-tier candidate, I haven’t heard him say anything platform-wise. He’s not even registering in the polls.”

Read more from Dan Atkinson at the Boston Herald 

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