Republicans Up For Reelection Fear Daylight With Trump

Senate Republicans who are up for reelection next year are sticking as close to President Trump as possible, especially on his signature issue of illegal immigration and border security.

Even as some Senate Republicans broke with Trump over his emergency declaration to build a wall on the Mexican border, most of those running for reelection next year backed Trump — a sign of their fear of Trump-fueled primary opponents.

Only one of the 12 Republicans who voted on Thursday for a Democratic-backed resolution overturning Trump’s emergency declaration is up for reelection next year: Sen. Susan Collins (R), who has a well-established reputation in Maine as an independent.

Republicans running in other swing states who arguably might have benefited from distancing themselves from Trump, such as Sens. Cory Gardner (Colo.), Martha McSally (Ariz.) and Thom Tillis (N.C.), stuck with him.

GOP strategists said Republicans have little choice given the potency of the issue of border security with Trump’s base.

A recent Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 70 percent of Republicans said they would be more likely to vote for a senator or representative who supports Trump’s national emergency declaration. 

“The reason why you had Gardner and Tillis do this is because they knew that the process/principle argument wasn’t going to fly with the Republican base when this is their No. 1 issue. They want execution, and they don’t care how you get it,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist. 

O’Connell said Gardner and Tillis, who have two of the most competitive races next year, need to worry about fending off primary challenges and turning out conservative voters in the election, when Democratic turnout is expected to be high. 

“Even though they want to fend off primary challenges, this is also a situation where, in the general election, if they cross Trump on this issue, Trump could win their state and they could still lose,” he added. “In a lot of these races, it’s going to be two-point races, whether it’s Gardner or it’s Tillis.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) is in a slightly different position.

“Obviously Sasse is more concerned about a primary challenge,” O’Connell said, noting that Trump won Nebraska by 20 points in 2016. Sasse describes himself as a “constitutional conservative” and warned in a statement to National Review magazine in February that Trump’s emergency border declaration undermined the Constitution’s separation of powers.  

Read more from Alexander Bolton at The Hill

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Voters In 2020 Battleground State Struggle To Excuse Trump's Hiring Of Illegal Immigrants

President Trump’s supporters are shocked and disappointed that his business empire employed illegal immigrants, even while he was in the Oval Office and calling on Congress for a crackdown.

In interviews with Trump voters throughout Pennsylvania, the president got the benefit of the doubt. His supporters said he either was not responsible for front-line hiring decisions or that employing illegal immigrants is a common and near-unavoidable practice in America’s hospitality and construction industries.

About 11 million illegal immigrants are living in the U.S. and 7.8 million have jobs, accounting for nearly 5 percent of the civilian workforce, according to the Pew Research Center.

In the U.S., illegal immigrants make up roughly 53 percent of farmhands, 15 percent of construction labor, and 9 percent of manufacturing and service industry workers, according to Pew.

Ford O’Connell, a Republican Party strategist closely allied with the White House, said the criticism will ring hollow because it comes from Democrats pushing an open-borders agenda of sanctuary cities and voting rights for illegals.

“Obviously the Democrats are going to throw the kitchen sink at him and try to dislodge any support he has in the Rust Belt. That’s what they see as their path to victory,” he said.

Mr. O’Connell said the president can easily bat away the criticism by saying, “As a businessman, I took advantage of a rigged system that works against the American worker. As president, my foremost concern is the American worker, and that’s why I’m working to fix our broken system.

“The problem is the broken system,” he said.

Read more from S.A. Miller at The Washington Times

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Bernie Has The Democratic Establishment Petrified And Other Commentary

Consultant: Bernie Sanders Has Democrats Petrified

Once again, Sen. Bernie Sanders is rising in the polls, drawing large crowds — and “giving many Democrats and their allies heartburn,” suggests Ford O’Connell at The Hill. Already, his presidential campaign is “reopening old wounds” from 2016. Indeed, “the message from institutional Democrats and their allies in the media is simple: Just please go away, Bernie.” Because this time around, Sanders “could conceivably win the nomination.” He has “strong name ID, a loyal and committed set of core supporters, the ability to raise money like a televangelist and an online presence that you just can’t buy.” But the general election “poses some real problems for Sanders, and the brain trust behind the Democratic Party knows it.” Which is why the Trump White House sees Bernie 2.0 “as a dream come true.”

Read more from the New York Post Editorial Board

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Bernie 2020 Has Democrats Petrified

Don’t look now, but Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is rising in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary polls and is once again drawing both large crowds at campaign stops and Bernie Bros back to their keyboards.

And just like in 2016, Sanders is already giving many Democrats and their allies heartburn.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) recently said Sanders should not be allowed to run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, because “[h]e’s not a Democrat.”

When asked why Sanders won’t refer to Venezuelan strongman Nicholas Maduro as “a dictator” or take a position on whether the socialist dictator must go, Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.) insinuated that it just doesn’t really matter because Sanders “is not going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party.”

And then there are the former staffers of 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton who claim that Sanders was far from a team player when he lost the nomination. Worse, they suggest he is a diva who relishes “carbon-spewing private jet” travel. Not exactly a good look for a candidate who is constantly barking about climate change and the size of America’s carbon footprint.

There is no doubt the heated rift over Sanders is reopening old wounds. The prize thus far for Sanders furor goes to The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald who in defense of Sanders called MSNBC “a dishonest political operation, not a news outlet” for its allegedly slanted coverage of Sanders’ first 2020 campaign rally in Brooklyn, New York.

Taken as a whole, the message from institutional Democrats and their allies in the media is simple: Just please go away, Bernie.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at The Hill

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Division Among Democrats Sparks Questions About The Party's Direction

The Justice Democrats, a progressive group committed to upending the current political establishment, funded many of the fresh faces in Congress. If this week’s events are any indicator, they’ve been largely successful.

Minnesota Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar, who is supported by the group, caused a firestorm by repeatedly tweeting critiques of pro-Israel groups that were condemned by many in her own party, who began drafting a resolution against anti-Semitic speech earlier this week.

The effort to affirm the party line quickly collapsed and revealed disarray; with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defending Rep. Omar by saying she didn’t understand the impact of her words, Bernie Sanders saying she started an important policy discussion and still others pointing fingers at the other side of the aisle.

Ultimately, the progressive wing of the party’s pushback on social media led the Democrats to scrap the original draft in favor of passing a more generic anti-hate resolution that did not mention Rep. Omar by name Thursday.

Republican strategist and political commentator Ford O’Connell told Sinclair Broadcast Group that though he thinks the resolution of the resolution was a strategic victory for Rep. Omar and her supporters, he believes that the week’s events highlight divisions within the Democrat Party that may impact the ability for it to be politically effective.

“I would say this is a precursor of things to come, in terms of the disagreement between the newer members of the House caucus and the old guard,” said O’Connell. “What we’re seeing is the Democrat remaking itself in terms of its key issues and views.”

Read more from Mariana Barillas at KGBT-TV

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2020 Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang Supports Universal Basic Income

CivicForumPAC Chairman Ford O’Connell and former Obama campaign regional field director Robin Biro on how entrepreneur Andrew Yang centered his 2020 campaign around implementing a universal basic income program in America.

Watch the video at Fox Business

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President Trump's Poll Numbers Improve. But Will His Chances Of Getting Re-Elected?

President Donald Trump’s job approval rating has recently improved despite ongoing controversies, according to several surveys released this week.

According to an NBC/WSJ poll published Monday, 46 percent of polled voters said they approved of Trump’s performance. That’s up three points since January, but within the margin of error for the poll. Soon after those results were released, RealClearPolitics found Trump’s average rating rose to 44 percent, the highest it’s been since Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was sworn into office in October 2018.

These numbers appear to defy what seemed to be a turbulent week for the administration that included former Trump “fixer” and lawyer Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony, a falling out with the North Koreans over nuclear negotiations and the House Judiciary Committee launching an investigation that includes the administration’s response to the ongoing Mueller probe.

Though Trump’s approval ratings have never reached such highs as President George W. Bush enjoyed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, they’ve remained remarkably stable even during the recent government shutdown. His approval rating is worse than President Barack Obama’s but better than President Bill Clinton’s at the same time in their presidencies, according to NBC/WSJ data. Both were re-elected.

Political analyst and Republican strategist Ford O’Connell told Sinclair Broadcast Group that the biggest predictor for who wins elections is the economy and unemployment, which is where he said President Trump generally polls strongest. That’s not to say that the ongoing Russia probe shouldn’t be a worry for Trump, rather he believes it’s not going to be the factor that swings the election.

“If he’s going to win re-election it’s going to be based on the economy,” said O’Connell, who argued President Trump’s already at an advantage because he is an incumbent president. He also pointed out that President Clinton was re-elected despite multiple controversies, and argued calls for Trumps’ impeachment could similarly backfire as voters tend to see such motions as an attempt to undermine the will of the people.

However, O’Connell predicted that the 2020 election will be incredibly tight, based on current forecasts.

“Trump has to win Florida and Arizona, then pick off one of the other industrial Midwest states,” said O’Connell, pointing to Pennsylvania, Michigan or Wisconsin- states the president won the last time around. “If he does that, he wins. If the Democrats do that, they win.”

Read more from Mariana Barillas at ABC 33/30 News

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Editorial: In Support Of President Trump And The Wall

Ever since Donald Trump launched his 2016 presidential campaign, the idea of a wall at the southern border has been a controversial topic. Many politicians and citizens strongly disagree with the president’s efforts of decreasing illegal immigration via a wall, calling it a “racist” and “unconstitutional” move. Protests have taken place seeing that the wall was introduced, and to add onto Trump’s obstacles, sixteen states are currently suing Trump regarding his national emergency declaration. February 15th was the day that President Donald Trump pursued his mission to protect the American people and the American economy by declaring a national emergency, an effort I support with tremendous pride.

Illegal immigration has been an issue in the United States for quite some time now. This being said, something must be done. Our president is fighting for the wall to protect the United States and to enforce legal immigration. If things were to go his way, illegal immigration would begin to be dealt with at one of its main sources, but his efforts are constantly being blocked by the democratic party.

This statement, public on Homeland Security’s website, sums up the chances of the wall being successful:

“Walls Work. When it comes to stopping drugs and illegal aliens from crossing our borders, border walls have proven to be extremely effective. Border security relies on a combination of border infrastructure, technology, personnel and partnerships with law enforcement at the state, local, tribal, and federal level. For example, when we installed a border wall in the Yuma Sector, we have seen border apprehensions decrease by 90 percent. In San Diego, we saw on Sunday that dilapidated, decades-old barriers are not sufficient for today’s threat and need to be removed so new – up to 30 foot wall sections can be completed.”

Opinion writer Ford O’Connell has similar views about the construction of a wall at the border. In one of his articles, he shares, “until Congress has the will to change the asylum laws and to fix the other legal loopholes and defects, it would be foolish not to better secure the southern border in the meantime.” This statement was released on ‘The Hill’ just a few weeks ago (January 12th, 2019), so his feelings on the topic should still be similar, if not the same.

Read more from Logan Dubil at The Knight Crier

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Rep. Omar Is Rebuked By Her Own Party. But What Will The Consequences Be?

Lawmakers are expected to vote on a resolution introduced by House Democrats condemning anti-Semitism this week, in a public response to repeated comments by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Mo., regarding U.S. support for Israel.

The House already voted last month to condemn anti-Semitism in a Republican led effort after after Rep. Omar apologized for a tweet that suggested support for Israel is being bought by groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, according to The New York Times. Last week, she fanned the flames by stating that pro-Israel organizations are pushing “allegiance to a foreign country.” She has not apologized for her most recent statements and has instead defended them on Twitter.

House Democrats are introducing this new resolution after receiving a request for a response from the Anti-Defamation League, which argued such statements by Rep. Omar perpetuate harmful anti-Semitic stereotypes. Lawmakers are expected to vote on it Wednesday.

President Donald Trump has also weighed in on the firestorm, stating that it’s a “dark day for Israel.’

So far, Democrats haven't pursued more severe punishments that have been suggested including removing Rep. Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Republican strategist and political commentator Ford O’Connell said he doesn’t expect the votes on the resolution to accomplish much.

“When it comes to firmly worded statements, they are really worth the paper they are printed on,” said O’Connell. “Either she’s going to continue doing this or she’s not going to continue doing this." However, he predicted that Democrats "are going to have to continue playing defense when it comes to whatever she says next."

O’Connell said such controversies threaten the Democrat’s brand as they fight to regain the White House, especially as Israel has historically enjoyed bipartisan support.

“This is a real problem for the Democrats and they haven’t quite figured out how to get out of this box yet and they are hoping it doesn’t spread to the eventual 2020 nominee,” said O’Connell, who expects Republicans to use the controversy to make the case that some Democrat party members hold “radical views on Israel.”

Read more from Mariana Barillas at WSBT

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Emergency Declaration Looms Over 2020 Election

President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to build the wall at the southern border will be a powerful weapon in his arsenal as he seeks a second term, regardless of whether he is spurned by the courts or Congress, strategists say.

“As of right now, Trump is sort of running on three issues, one of which is the capitalism vs. socialism debate, late-term abortion, and then it’s border security,” Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist, told the Washington Examiner. “I think the national emergency sends the message ‘I am doing everything I can, I am not walking away from this issue no matter what, and you, the voters, need to help me complete it.’”

Trump announced in the Rose Garden last month he would be declaring a national emergency, which allows him to skirt Congress and redirect federal dollars for construction of the border wall.

The president had teased an emergency declaration initially during the 35-day partial government shutdown but stopped short of declaring one and instead urged Congress to reach an agreement on a border deal.

Lawmakers ultimately agreed to a spending bill that allocated $1.375 billion for Trump’s border wall. Rather than shut down federal agencies for a second time, the president opted to sign the legislation and then take unilateral action, including reallocating $3.6 billion from military construction funds under his emergency declaration.

Trump’s action was swiftly challenged in federal courts in the District of Columbia and California, and the president himself acknowledges that, if a case lands before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, he will likely face defeat. However, the president is optimistic that the Supreme Court would rule in his favor.

A protracted legal battle could be a boon for Trump, O’Connell said, as it keeps the issue of border security in the news in the lead-up to the 2020 election.

“The litigation allows him to simplify it — are you for border security or against border security?” he said. “What he’s trying to show is how much Democrats and some Republicans, the lengths they will go to try to stop him from doing what he sees as his constitutional duty, which is protecting the safety and security of the U.S. and its citizens.”

Read more from Melissa Quinn at the Washington Examiner

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