Trump Rallies, Interviews Keep Spotlight On Him As Midterm Polls Tighten

President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats do not agree on much, but they seem to be on the same page in viewing the midterm elections as a referendum on his first two years in office, with both parties hoping that paradigm gives their candidates an advantage in November.

Trump has made the connection explicit, telling voters at several recent rallies that a vote for their local Republican candidate is a vote for him. He has also warned a Democratic Congress could try to impeach him.

Trump’s “Make American Great Again” rallies have become less of a national media spectacle over time, but experts say they can still have a significant impact in local media markets where they are held. As the president delivers hourlong unscripted diatribes, airing grievances and regaling audiences with tales of victory, the White House is hoping his performances will inspire his fervent supporters to show up at the polls on Election Day.

Riding high on a few notable recent accomplishments—including confirmation of his second Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh—Trump has stepped up his campaigning schedule and his media presence. He has spoken to several outlets in the last week and he sat down for his first interview with “60 Minutes” since soon after the 2016 election.

“What has really changed here over the last three to four weeks is, prior to the Kavanaugh fight, Republicans and Trump supporters were extremely complacent,” Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said. “They didn’t really understand the stakes of the election. They didn’t really believe the polls.”

“Obviously, you always want the president’s approval rating closer to 50 percent,” O’Connell said. “But at the same time, this is a situation where the Senate is in states favorable to Republicans and some House races are in places favorable to Democrats.”

The House and Senate battlefields look vastly different at the moment. Most experts say Democrats have a very strong shot at taking control of the House, but Republicans are widely expected to retain the majority in the Senate.

“You’re really seeing a split situation between the House and Senate,” O’Connell said, with Republicans going on offense in Senate races but still playing defense in many tight House campaigns.

“It’s always important to have positive reinforcement, especially in final weeks, but in this case, people know how they’re going to vote,” O’Connell said. “The question is whether they’re going to turn out to vote or not.”

Read more from Stephen Loiaconi at WJLA

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Elizabeth Warren Touts Democrats' House And Senate Chances

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren rallied the crowd at a town hall in Roxbury yesterday, pushing the need for Democrats to gain control over the House and the Senate in the upcoming November midterm elections, but her GOP rival Geoff Diehl and polls suggest the longed-for Blue Wave is over — Warren’s party overplayed its hand in the Kavanaugh confirmation fight.

GOP political operative Ford O’Connell said Democrats took a hit after from the “Kavanaugh effect.”

“Absolutely it backfired on the Democrats because it woke up Republican voters,” said O’Connell. He said prior to the Kavanaugh hearing, there was a much-touted “Blue Wave” which has now receded.

O’Connell said Democrats are “all but locked out” of the Senate, though the House is up for grabs and could fall into Democratic hands.

In the House, Republicans are projected to take 201 seats while Democrats will land 205 seats. The remaining 29 seats are a toss-up according to the polls, with 218 seats needed to maintain a majority.

In the Senate — now split 51-49 in the GOP’s favor — the Democrats are projected to hold just 44 seats, while the GOP is secure in 50 seats, with six seats mostly leaning Republican, raising the prospect of a larger GOP majority there.

Read more from Alexi Cohan at the Boston Herald

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Kavanaugh Fight A GOP Wake Up Call, But More Is Needed

Prior to the wall-to-wall media coverage of now-Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, there was a real chance that Democrats could capture control of both the House and the Senate.

Now the blue team is all but locked out of taking back the Senate.

Why? Simply put, self-identified Republican voters as well as Trump voters were complacent. They didn’t believe anything was at stake in this upcoming election nor did a majority of them think that Democrats were all that likely to win back the House, according to a Republican National Committee internal poll.

The Democrats’ politically motivated smear campaign against Brett Kavanaugh changed all of that. It was a wake up call for Republicans. In July of 2018, there was a 10-point gap between the number of Democrats and Republicans who said the 2018 midterms were “very important.” Now, that enthusiasm gap has been whittled down to just two points, because a larger share of Republicans has become energized.

What is also heartening for the Grand Old Party is that independents by a 28-point margin disapprove of the Democrats’ handling of the Kavanaugh nomination.

With a little more than three weeks to go, the Republicans can’t just rest on their Kavanaugh and economic laurels. There is still a significant amount of ground that has to be made up if they are to have any chance of holding onto control of the House even if by only a sliver.

Some prognosticators believe that Democrats are currently within a dozen seats of re-taking the House. And Republican allies are not shy about which specific House seats are in danger.

So what is it that Republicans have to do in the remaining days to stave off the Democrats in the House? Aside from praying for an electoral miracle, they need to remind voters, particularly independents, that the Kavanaugh saga is not a one-off but a sign of things to come from the Democrats.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at The Hill

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Haley's Successor Likely To Speak Louder Yet Spark Less

As U.S. President Donald Trump was still weighing on possible candidates to replace Nikki Haley, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, experts say that the successor will likely be Trump's mouthpiece at the international arena while bearing less importance in America's foreign policy making process.

On Tuesday, Trump accepted Haley's resignation, which came as a surprise as many high-level administration officials have been blindsided about the news. Haley said she will remain in the post till the end of the year.

Many believed that Haley fulfilled her job as U.S. envoy to the United Nations. As U.S. online media BuzzFeed put it, Haley "managed to represent the United States at a multilateral institution for an administration that is highly critical of multilateralism."

While much still remained unknown about why the 46-year-old former South Carolina governor chose to announce her decision now, less than one month away from the Congressional mid-term elections, people have already shifted attention to the candidates who will succeed her post.

Haley's replacement is going to be someone willing to "make the president's case" and "be his mouthpiece," Ford O'Connell, a Republican and news commentator who frequently shows up on TV, told Xinhua.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua

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‘Just Ridiculous Lies’: Dems Incensed Over Misleading GOP Ads On Medicare For All

The GOP is hammering Democratic challengers in swing districts over a plan putting the government in full control of the health care system, betting that voter backlash over the multi-trillion dollar proposal will tip crucial House races to Republicans.

There’s just one problem: Few of the targeted Democrats actually support such a plan.

In battleground districts from California to Kentucky to New York, Democrats have gone out of their way to distance themselves from Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) $32 trillion single-payer proposal, only to be attacked for endorsing the plan anyway in Republican ads that range from misleading to outright false.

The effort to tie swing-district candidates to a single-payer concept — which Democrats are deeply divided on — illustrates the GOP's major disadvantage on health care after failing last year to pass unpopular Obamacare repeal bills.

Even President Donald Trump chimed in on the attacks Wednesday, railing against Democrats in a USA Today op-ed for plotting a socialist-style government takeover of health care.

"When it comes to core issues that voters are looking at, obviously Democrats have an advantage on health care," said Republican strategist Ford O'Connell. "So now you're watching the Republicans sort of move the goalposts."

Read more from Adam Cancryn at Politico

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How Will Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Impact The Midterm Elections?

Democratic strategist Wendy Osefo and Republican strategist Ford O'Connell on the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Watch the video at Fox Business

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How Kavanaugh Has Shaken The Midterm Elections Kaleidoscope

Even at the ceremonial swearing-in of newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump took aim at the forces who opposed him.

Trump apologized to Kavanaugh for the “terrible pain and suffering” inflicted by sexual assault allegations during his confirmation battle. “Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation, not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception,” he said, declaring Kavanaugh “innocent” of the charges. "What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency, and due process.”

But a full-throated embrace of Kavanaugh and rejection of the women who made accusations against him — Trump called those who disseminated the allegations “evil” in remarks earlier Monday and previously told reporters in a press conference that the accusations he had faced made him skeptical of claims against Kavanaugh — risks turning off the suburban women who may determine which party controls the House.

Nevertheless, Kavanaugh seems to be paying immediate dividends in the red-state Senate races that give Republicans their best chance of defending and even expanding their majority in the upper chamber.

“Trump understood that if Kavanaugh was going to get confirmed, the buck stops with him and he has to take the reins to blast through the media gauntlet and the Democratic treachery,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “Senate Republicans don’t seem to understand how to fight or the stakes for 2018. Trump decided to put Kavanaugh on his back and literally will his confirmation.”

Senate Republicans largely followed suit — only Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted “present” — and have also echoed Trump’s criticism of the anti-Kavanaugh mob. Centrist Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, delivered the final blow.

“Trump knows he has the biggest megaphone among Republicans and that the various wings of the GOP trust his political nose, even when they don’t agree with his tactics,” O’Connell said.

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

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'A Shadow Of Slavery's Power On America Today': Ocasio-Cortez Calls For Abolishing Electoral College

Democratic socialist congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is pushing for the Electoral College to be abolished.

Ocasio-Cortez -- who surprisingly won the Democratic primary in New York's 14th congressional district earlier this year -- responded over the weekend to a Twitter user who pointed out that two presidents who both lost the popular vote -- George W. Bush and Donald Trump -- have now placed four justices on the Supreme Court.

"It is well past time we eliminate the Electoral College, a shadow of slavery’s power on America today that undermines our nation as a democratic republic," Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

It is far from the first time that a comment from Ocasio-Cortez raised eyebrows. She got her political colors mixed up while on the campaign trail in July, and she was roundly criticized for flubbing an interview question in which she criticized Israel’s "occupation” of the Palestinian territories.

On "Fox & Friends" Monday, Republican strategist Ford O'Connell noted some of Ocasio-Cortez's previous controversial statements and gaffes, calling her "the gift that keeps on giving."

"Democrats constantly want to change the game every time they don't get their way," O'Connell said, pointing out that the 2016 election was the fifth time that the candidate who won the Electoral College didn't win the popular vote.

O'Connell said Ocasio-Cortez is a loud voice on the left and her ideas are "so out there" that Republicans would be foolish not to highlight them.

Read more and watch the video at Fox News insider

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Kavanaugh Saga's Potential Lasting Impact On The Nation

With one floor speech, Sen. Susan Collins decided the fate of a question consuming Capitol Hill, Washington and the country for the past three weeks — and barely 24 hours later, that question's answer was cemented when the Senate voted 50-48 to confirm Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. 

Kavanaugh's confirmation process roiled the country and at times evoked the worst in partisanship and human nature. As Republican Sen. Jeff Flake put it as he called for the FBI review into sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh, "This country is being ripped apart here." 

But the turmoil wrought by the process, and the impact it has on Kavanaugh's reputation on the court, could endure. 

Republicans hope the battle to confirm Kavanaugh will energize their base for the midterm elections. 

Democrats were already fired up before the Kavanaugh confirmation process — "They're already jacked up to 10, it's personal for them," GOP strategist Ford O'Connell said. But the outrage over Kavanaugh has emboldened "complacent" Republicans, O'Connell said. 

Read more from Kathryn Watson at CBS News

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Obama Backs Democratic Socialist Ocasio-Cortez

Republican strategist Ford O’ Connell and liberal commentator Jason Nichols on how former President Barack Obama endorsed Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Watch the video at Fox Business

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