U.S. Republicans Outpace Dems In Fundraising, But Elections Still Far Off

U.S. Republicans have recently raised funds at record-breaking levels. While some experts say this bodes well for the re-election of U.S. President Donald Trump, others argue that Trump's re-election is not a foregone conclusion, and note that the 2020 elections are still a long way off.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced earlier this week that the party brought in a record-breaking 20.8 million U.S. dollars in July, the RNC's largest ever off-cycle July haul, bringing the total to 177.9 million dollars for the 2019-2020 cycle.

"Our fundraising success is further evidence that the American people like the pro-growth agenda and economic record that the Trump administration and Republicans continue to deliver, and this puts us in a strong position to secure more Republican victories in 2020," she said.

Republican strategist and TV news personality Ford O'Connell told Xinhua that "this is a good sign for the Republicans."

"Clearly the Democratic fundraising has been anemic. There's a lot more enthusiasm for Trump than the media would let on. Second, when you look at the Democrats, they are conflicted, but there's also not a lot of enthusiasm in the party apparatus."

"The other question you have to ask is if Democrats pick the wrong candidate, are they all going to get on board?" O'Connell said.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua

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Don't buy Into The Hype That Joe Biden Is Necessarily The Most Electable Democrat

Former Vice President Joe Biden is pitching his campaign for president on a single, resounding message: beating President Donald Trump, and restoring the kind of stability Americans experienced under the Obama administration.

But in recent weeks, Biden's team has doubled down and explicitly appealed to electability, framing Biden as the sole candidate who can feasibly beat Trump, as Biden's wife former Second Lady Jill Biden did at a recent event.

Throughout his missteps, however, Biden has not only remained the frontrunner but has stayed steady or improved his performance in Democratic primary polls — especially among voters who prize electability.

"Joe Biden isn't the frontrunner because he's first in the polls, it's because of who he's polling well with," Ford O'Connell, a veteran GOP campaign strategist and adjunct professor at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management, previously told Insider.

"Biden has the majority of support with African Americans, particularly African-American women and seniors. The reason why that matters is because those two groups traditionally turn out the most in Democratic primaries," he added.

Older voters in particular, who turn out to vote at higher rates than younger ones, prioritize defeating Trump most of all.

"What is it going to take for Joe Biden to lose the nomination? It's very simple. Either the Democratic electorate has to believe that he can't go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump or someone else has to prove that they can. Until that happens, he's going to be the nominee," O'Connell told Insider.

Read more from Grace Panetta at Business Insider

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Elizabeth Warren Apologizes For 'Harm' She Caused Over Native American Claims

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell gives his take on 2020 presidential candidates Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. O’Connell also reacts to Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) claim that the New York Times is biased against President Trump.

Watch the video at Fox Business

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Mueller Report Fades From Political Conversation

Robert Mueller’s Russia report has largely faded from the airwaves less than a month after the former special counsel’s high-profile congressional testimony, a possible warning sign to Democrats that most voters have lost interest in the probe.

Even President Trump has made fewer mentions recently of the investigation that spanned 22 months of his presidency.

During a campaign-style rally in New Hampshire on Thursday, the president did not launch into his once-regular diatribes decrying the Mueller probe as a partisan “witch hunt.” Instead, Trump focused his ire on two Muslim congresswomen — Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) — and their thwarted attempt to visit Israel.

Trump is not the only one shifting focus away from the probe, which until recently dominated cable news.

In late July, discussion of Mueller’s investigation and possible impeachment were largely absent as the crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates debated each other on issues like health care and who is best positioned to beat Trump in the general election.

Fading public interest in the Mueller probe would be an unwelcome development for House Democrats, particularly as the House Judiciary Committee presses forward with its investigation into possible obstruction and potential abuses of power by the president.

Republican strategists say they also see evidence the president and Democrats are moving away from the Russia probe, arguing that neither party wants to run on the Mueller probe next year.

“Both sides at this juncture think that they don't gain anything electorally from talking about Russia. The Democrats would prefer to put all of their energy into the idea of cultural issues that Trump may be a white supremacist, that's the reason why they're moving off of it,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist.

“Trump's moving off of it because he realizes, too, he gains nothing by talking about it. Because the second that Bill Barr and Mueller and everyone basically said he wasn't an agent of Russia, then pretty much the whole storyline ended,” O’Connell added.

Read more from Olivia Beavers at The Hill

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Joe Biden Has Been A Self-Professed Gaffe Machine For Decades But Democratic Primary Voters Don't Seem To Care, Yet

Former Vice President Joe Biden's signature off-the-cuff speaking style has helped him cultivate a down-to-earth image, but it can also get him into trouble.

Biden has been a self-admitted gaffe-machine throughout his entire political career, but his tendency to twist his words into a pretzel or make controversial comments has received more scrutiny than ever as he competes in a historically crowded field.

The former vice president was mocked for flubbing the address of his campaign website in his closing statement during the second Democratic debate.

And during the weekend of the Iowa state fair, Biden made a series of eyebrow-raising misstatements in a row that had the Internet collectively cringing, including:

  • Accidentally saying that "poor kids are just as smart as white kids" while speaking to the Asian-Latino Coalition of Iowa. He later corrected himself and said he meant to say that poor kids are just as smart as wealthy kids.
  • Saying he valued "truth over facts" at another event.
  • Mixing up former British Tory leaders Margaret Thatcher, who was prime minister in the 1980s, and Theresa May, who was PM until earlier this year.
  • Claiming that while he was vice president, he met with survivors of the Parkland, Florida mass shooting — which happened in February 2018, over a year after he left the White House.

Biden's camp predictably dismissed the criticism and concern over his gaffes as a primarily media-driven narrative that doesn't translate to Democratic voters themselves — and to some extent, they're right.

"Joe Biden isn't the frontrunner because he's first in the polls, it's because of who he's polling well with," Ford O'Connell, a veteran campaign strategist and adjunct professor at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management, told INSIDER in a Wednesday interview.

"Biden has the majority of support with African Americans, particularly African-American women and seniors. The reason why that matters is because those two groups traditionally turn out the most in Democratic primaries," he added.

"Joe Biden's biggest enemy in terms of winning the nomination is Joe Biden. And it's not because he's making gaffes, it's the type of gaffes that question his fitness and whether or not he can go toe to toe with Donald Trump," O'Connell said.

Read more from Grace Panetta at Business Insider

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Here's Why The Once Solidly Republican State Of Texas Could Become A Ticking Time Bomb For Trump's GOP

The 2020 presidential election is projected to have record voter turnout, and the long-time Republican stronghold of Texas is shaping up to be a battleground state.

Republicans' margins of victory in the state have been narrowing over the course of the last few election cycles, especially in Texas' suburban areas.

And over the course of just a few weeks in July, four incumbent Republican congressmen all decided to call it quits and not run for re-election in 2020 in what some commentators have termed a "Texodus."

Not only do retirements automatically make many seats more competitive, but Texas is currently experiencing two trends that are favorable to Democrats: increasing urbanization, and big demographic shifts.

Ford O'Connell, a veteran GOP campaign strategist and adjunct professor at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management, told INSIDER that while the increase in the state's Latino population is an important demographic change, Texas' current leftward shift can be attributed more to white suburbanites breaking with President Donald Trump's Republican party.

"The narrative that Hispanics will turn Texas blue may eventually happen, but that's not moving as fast as the fact that college-educated whites are telling us they don't like Donald Trump," O'Connell said.

"Texas' cities are getting bigger in areas like Houston, Dallas, and Austin, it's the white folks in Texas whose votes are changing," O'Connell said. "You have more college-educated voters in those cities because they also have booming economies, and it's these college-educated whites who don't like Donald Trump."

Read more from Grace Pancetta at Business Insider

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US-China Trade War Fuels Recession Fears, Will It Hurt Trump In 2020?

The strength of the U.S. economy has been the central pillar of President Donald Trump's reelection strategy, and for every incumbent president, avoiding a recession has been a determining factor in whether or not they win a second term.

As Trump addressed a crowd of workers at the Shell Petrochemicals Complex outside of Pittsburgh, touting record low unemployment and half-million new manufacturing jobs, the effects of the U.S.-China trade war were looming.

On Monday, markets took a dive as it appeared trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing were at a total impasse and the Trump administration was poised to tax the remaining balance of U.S. trade with China by Sept. 1. Markets bounced back Tuesday on the news that the administration was postponing tariffs on consumer goods, including cellphones, laptops and toys through December.

Before leaving his New Jersey residence, Trump told reporters the delay was "for the Christmas season, just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. consumers."

Even with the good news, the trade war has prompted several top financial institutions to raise the specter of a recession. This week, Bank of America reported that the odds of a recession occurring within the next year had increased to 30%. They cited the trade war, slower economic growth and the limited ability of the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy with rate cuts.

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell explained that the trade war hurts Trump's chances of reelection "in the sense that his calling card is the economy and history dictates, going back to FDR, that if you avoid a recession you will be reelected as an incumbent president."

It is also clear that barring a major economic, military or political disaster, 2020 will be a close election that will come down to a handful of battleground states. The states that are in play are largely in the industrial Midwest, parts of the south and the farm belt, where Trump's tariff policy has hit home.

"About four of those states are favorable to Trump's strategy but he's also recognizing there's only so much pain they can take at the moment," O'Connell said.

The Democratic primary has, so far, featured little discussion of those issues.

"It's clear that the Democrats, for whatever reason, seem to have no answer for China," O'Connell said. "They're barely even acknowledging what a longterm threat it is to the U.S. both economically and militarily. You'd think they just woke up to this fact."

Read more from Leandra Bernstein at WJLA

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Democrats’ Newest Climate Platform: Hammering Fossil Fuel Companies

Democratic White House hopefuls are getting increasingly aggressive on climate change — and calling for oil, gas and coal producers to pay for their role in climbing temperatures, rising seas and catastrophic weather.

The sharpened tone includes former Vice President Joe Biden’s promise to "take action against fossil fuel companies," as well as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ charge that the businesses committed "criminal activity" by knowingly producing the greenhouse gases that worsen climate change. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is proposing legislation that could pave the way for lawsuits against the companies, while Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has accused fossil fuel producers of "killing people" and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants to create a fossil fuel "excise tax."

The rhetoric echoes the fervor of the climate change activists who have pushed Democrats to embrace an ambitious “Green New Deal” that would wean the U.S. off fossil fuels in a decade or more, and comes amid lawsuits from states, cities and citizens accusing the companies of hiding the evidence that their products are harming the planet.

But Republicans say they welcome the trend, too, accusing Democrats of pushing a radical attack on an industry that has provided one of the brightest spots in the economy and has reduced U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

"The deeper and the longer the Democrats talk about this, the happier the Trump campaign is," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist who speaks regularly with the White House and President Donald Trump's reelection effort. "They see fodder not so much in the issue but in the solutions being proposed by the Democrats."

For climate activists angry over Trump's rollback of policies designed to fight greenhouse gas emissions, candidates' calls for aggressive action are long overdue.

But the American Petroleum Institute warned that many of the 2020 candidates' plans would hurt industry’s hundreds of thousands of employees across the country while raising energy costs for households. The group also points to a recent trend of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution declining as natural gas displaces coal in electricity generation.

Read more from Zack Colman at Politico

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2020 Dems Target Energy Industry In Climate Push

SETTING SIGHTS ON THE ENERGY INDUSTRY: Democratic presidential hopefuls seem to be channeling the fervor of climate activists who are aiming to hold oil and gas producers liable for the costs incurred from climbing temperatures, rising seas and catastrophic weather. Their opponents see an opening to paint the party as pushing a radical agenda to undermine an industry that's been a bright spot for the economy and has cut U.S. dependence on foreign oil, Pro's Zack Colman reports this morning.

"The deeper and the longer the Democrats talk about this, the happier the Trump campaign is," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist. "They see fodder not so much in the issue but in the solutions being proposed by the Democrats."

Last month's debates offered a glimpse. Attacks on fossil fuel producers came from leading candidates Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who was perhaps the most vocal among the front-runners by saying the companies were engaging in "criminal activity" by promoting fossil fuels despite their knowledge they were driving climate change.

And Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been pushing legislation requiring more climate change disclosures by companies, a move that could help spark new lawsuits against the energy producers.

Environmental groups say there's room to sharpen government oversight. "The conversation has particularly evolved to the point where we're not just talking about what's happening, we are talking about getting to the root of the problem and who's responsible," 350.org spokeswoman Lindsay Meiman said.

Read more from Kelsey Tamborinno at Politico

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Trump's Greatest Allies For A 2020 Win: AOC And 'The Squad'

Will Joe Biden capture the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination because of the gravitational pull of Barack Obama? Or will it be Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, despite her self-serving and bogus claims to Native American ancestry? Perhaps it will be Sen. Kamala Harris of California who seems to have no idea where she stands on several key 2020 issues or possibly the socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont who supports allowing the convicted Boston Marathon bomber to vote in U.S. elections. If President Donald Trump gets his way, it may not ultimately matter.

Enter the über woke socialist quadruplets who refer to themselves as “The Squad:” Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D- N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

What makes "The Squad" such a tantalizing and obvious political target for President Trump is that all four are on the wrong side of every major 2020 issue. From their calls to “abolish ICE” and the Department of Homeland Security, a position that even the ultra-progressive Center for American Progress suggests is bonkers, to their support of the Green New Deal, Medicare-for-all, impeachment for Trump and outright disdain for Israel, they are the 2020 gift that keeps on giving for the Trump White House.

Let’s also not forget the squad’s over-the-top, incendiary rhetoric, which much of the mainstream press chooses to gloss over or outright ignore, coupled with the fact that these four individuals crave attention and media adulation like teenagers on Instagram. In fact, their social media presence is dwarfing the 2020 Democratic presidential field.

All of this is precisely what President Trump desires. He wants to make "The Squad" the 2020 face of the Democratic Party, and for good reason.

As it currently stands, the 2020 presidential race is likely to be an extremely close affair decided by a handful of states highlighted by Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. And allies of both parties are flooding the zone in these four states.

According to internal Democratic polling, "The Squad" is beyond toxic for the Democrats in the 2020 swing states. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may be popular among the Democratic base, but her favorability among voters the Democrats need in the states that matter is hovering around 22 percent. Further, only 9 percent of swing voters polled have a favorable view of Rep. Ilhan Omar, while socialism clocked-in at a not-exactly awe-inspiring 18 percent. Public polling from CBS News further confirms that many Americans view the squad unfavorably and that Trump has room to make them even more disliked among the electorate due to their currently limited name ID.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at The Hill

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