‘Trump Is The Last Best Chance To Get Things Done’

Despite calculated Democratic distractions and media attacks, President Trump has signed more bills into law at this point in office than four of his predecessorsbesting former Presidents Barack ObamaGeorge W. BushBill Clintonand George H.W. Bush. So says House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy himself.

“Considering that President Trump is getting hit with slings and arrows from all sides including from within his own White House, he is counterpunching and deflecting far better than the press and Democrats think. Trump’s chief concern now is to get congressional Republicans to stop being scared of their own shadow and pass his pro-growth agenda,” Ford O’Connell, adjunct professor at The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, tells Inside the Beltway.

“That said, President Trump could make his life easier by expanding and bolstering his communications shop so that his message is more streamlined and consistent. As for Twitter, Trump needs to start tweeting with a message-specific purpose and cease the stream-of-consciousness tweets, particularly when they relate to ongoing investigations and matters before the courts. In politics, there are a lot of things you can’t control, but to be successful you should control what’s in your grasp. If you do that, the rest will take care of itself,” Mr. O’Connell continues.

“Contrary to media reports, a good number of Trump’s core supporters recognize the president’s mistakes and shortcomings. Most previously voted for Bush 43 or Mitt Romney, some voted for Obama. But what unites them is a belief that Trump is the last best chance to get things done in a Washington that no longer represents them,” says Mr. O’Connell. “What fuels these folks is a press corps obsessed with Russia, a Democratic Party kowtowing to an inflamed left-leaning base and smug Republican elites who are all hell-bent on taking down Trump. In other words, it is the venom of this motley consortium that keeps Trump’s grass roots support thriving. As strange as this may seem, welcome to the new normal in politics.”

Read more from Jennifer Harper at The Washington Times

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James Comey Cloud Hindering Trump's Agenda

President Trump worked this week to revive his legislative agenda and kick off his administration's pursuit of an infrastructure overhaul, but the attention devoted to former FBI Director James Comey's congressional testimony demonstrated how difficult it will be to get back on track.

Trump's efforts to expedite legislative priorities that had stalled amid controversy included a meeting with House and Senate leaders on Tuesday, which was followed by a private dinner with a handful of national-security-focused Republican lawmakers that evening.

Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist, said the GOP could be running out of time to notch any legislative accomplishments before the midterm elections sweep some Republican House members out of office.

"Congressional Republicans have to grow a backbone. They have to realize that, in terms of numbers, it's not going to get any better than it is right now," O'Connell said of the House majority. "You've got to produce some deliverables, basically."

Trump's top two legislative priorities — an Obamacare overhaul and tax reform — have hit roadblocks in the House and Senate thanks to dissent within Republican ranks about the direction of those policies. And this week, administration officials piled on a third policy initiative by announcing its renewed push for an infrastructure package before the end of the year.

"When we talk about Obamacare and we talk about tax reform or tax cuts, these are not just Trump items that are just separate from the GOP agenda like, say, the wall might be," O'Connell noted. "These are items that [Republicans] promised no matter who the president is."

Read more from Sarah Westwood at the Washington Examiner

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THE MEMO: Washington Braces For Comey Hearing Impact

James Comey’s appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday will be the most dramatic congressional testimony in decades. 

Comey, who was fired as FBI director last month, could inflict real damage on President Trump with his testimony — and for a few hours, he’ll have the nation’s full attention. 

Broadcast TV networks, as well as their cable counterparts, have cleared their schedules to provide wall-to-wall live coverage of the hearing, which is set to begin at 10 a.m. CNN has even started a countdown clock.

Comey has said it will be the only public testimony he will give on recent events, according to the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr (R-N.C.).

The feverish atmosphere ahead of the former FBI director’s appearance is unlike anything seen in Washington in decades.

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell suggested Democrats could be overestimating the effects of Comey’s testimony.

“There is only one question that matters for the president, and that is, ‘Is James Comey going to say he obstructed justice?’ ” he said. “According to ABC News, he is not going to do that.”

But with all eyes in Washington on the hearing on Thursday, the stakes could hardly be higher.

Read more from Niall Stanage at The Hill

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Republican Lawmakers Wonder When It's Time To Ditch Trump

Republican lawmakers face a big decision: Should they continue to ride with President Trump in hope that his poll numbers improve or abandon him to save themselves in the 2018 elections?

Trump's presidency is off to a rocky start. His job approval rating is flailing below 40 percent in the latest RealClearPolitics national polling average. The White House looks chaotic. The Republican legislative agenda is mired in Congress. The Russia investigation has started heating up with the appointment of a special counsel and ominous headlines every day.

Congressional Republicans publicly criticized Trump's handling of the firing of FBI Director James Comey and are growing impatient with the outrage du jour, though most GOP politicos still request anonymity to discuss the president candidly. "[Y]ou have this White House that is lurching from crisis to crisis, image of disarray," said a Republican pollster. "They can't get their hands around the basic day-to-day agenda."

Next year, all 435 House members and a third of senators are up for re-election. The Senate map favors the Republicans, but the GOP controls just 52 of 100 seats. Its position in the House could be more precarious. Republicans have a 24-seat majority, which includes 23 members representing districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Some of them are already starting to panic.

"You can watch how closely you hug him, but I wouldn't run away from him," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist. "Trump may not be everyone's cup of tea, but he is the cup of tea."

"These aren't lifetime appointments," O'Connell said. "If you can't get it done now, with a Republican House, Senate and White House, when are you ever going to be able to get it done?" He says Republicans suffer from "paralysis by analysis" but will pay a bigger price if they do nothing.

Read more from W. James Antle III, David M. Drucker at the Washington Examiner

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Donald Trump: Stop Being PC, Boost Security

The latest U.K. terror attack, with the British prime minister decrying “too much tolerance of extremism in our country,” opens a small window for President Trump to build support for his travel moratorium from six mostly Muslim nations as the proposal heads for the Supreme Court.

“If he doesn’t strike when the iron’s hot, then nothing is going to wind up happening,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said.

“He’s getting some criticism for it, but he’s right to bring it up, because if he doesn’t, we’re just going to stick our heads in the sand.”

Trump brought his revised travel order, issued in March, to the fore Saturday night, tweeting as news of the U.K. attack unfolded that the U.S. needs to be “smart, vigilant and tough,” and that “We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!”

O’Connell said Trump needs to sway prominent Republicans such as Lindsey Graham and John McCain.

Read more from Jack Encarnacao at the Boston Herald

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Democrats Depending On ‘Repeal, Replace’ Plan To Harm GOP In 2018 Races

Democrats are counting on the GOP’s anti-Obamacare push to wound Republicans heading into the 2018 elections, hoping to rescue themselves for what should otherwise be a very bad year at the polls for Senate Democrats.

Already in the minority, Democrats must defend 25 Senate seats in next year’s cycle compared to just nine for the GOP — and many of those defenses come in states that President Trump easily won last year, such as Indiana, Montana, Missouri, North Dakota and West Virginia.

House Republicans are eyeing runs at several of those states, but Democrats say voters won’t take kindly to those GOP lawmakers’ support for the House Obamacare repeal bill, which would scrap the 2010 health law but result in an estimated 23 million fewer Americans holding insurance a decade from now.

Republicans, though, say they hope voters will reward their candidates for living up to their campaign promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“I think a lot of people in these states, ones that went hard for Trump, are tired of the fact that no matter who you vote for, nothing gets done,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said. “They were trying to show backbone and move the ball forward, so I don’t see how they won’t get rewarded.”

“Democrats would love to use the health care vote as a blunt object,” Mr. O’Connell said, “but it’s very hard to do it when you don’t have a health care bill.”

Read more from Thomas Howell Jr. at the Washington Times

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It's Still Hillary Clinton's Fault She Lost The 2016 Election

Almost everyone agrees the election of 2016 was one for the ages. It pitted a reality TV star with billions in the bank and no political experience against a former first lady, secretary of state and senator from New York.

The debates were wild, both during the primaries and the general election. Campaign themes never before uttered took center stage. A woman won the nomination of a major political party for the first time. And the result was an upset of epic proportions.

But the wildest thing of all may have been the political coalition that formed to put Donald Trump over the top. The FBI was in on it, as was its director, James Comey. The Russians definitely had a hand in it, as did their leader, Vladimir Putin.

Then there were the anti-American forces and the low-information voters and the Macedonian data farms. And Facebook, Twitter, fake news, cable news, Netflix, misogynists, suburban women, news executives and the New York Times. There was imbalance in the media and voter suppression in Wisconsin. Both the Democratic and Republican parties were in on it, as was President Barack Obama.

One can only imagine how this group ever got anything done, but it must have been effective.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at the Washington Examiner

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Paris Exit Highlights Feud Between Kushner, Bannon

President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord has intensified the spotlight on the White House rivalry between chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, with one cable commentator proclaiming the former Breitbart chairman is now the de facto commander in chief.

Bannon had been pushing the president hard to exit the pact, while Kushner reportedly lobbied Trump to stay. A beaming Bannon took a victory lap during Trump’s announcement in the Rose Garden Thursday, while fellow top adviser Kushner was nowhere to be found.

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell told the Herald that Trump enjoys rivalries among his staffers and that who’s up and who’s down any given week often changes based on the news cycle.

“He absolutely wants his key staffers to compete and he feels when that occurs he gets the best product,” said O’Connell. “Sometimes they don’t necessarily shake it off and go back to their corner. Sometimes there are grudges that are held.”

Read more from Chris Cassidy at the Boston Herald

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'Red Meat To The Base': Trump Scores Points With Supporters By Rejecting Climate Deal

Had President Donald Trump decided to keep the U.S. in the Paris climate accord, it would have been a slap in the face to the very people who put him in office, says Republican strategist Ford O'Connell.

Instead, standing in the White House Rose Garden on a hot, humid Washington day, the president said the U.S. was "getting out." And he delivered the line that was music to the ears of his political base: "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris."

"This got him some political capital, and it got him political capital with the folks who put him over the top," O'Connell said.

Trump's decision sparked a flurry of condemnation from world leaders, including Canada's Justin Trudeau, as well as from Democrats and environmental groups. Many business leaders, too, including oil giants like Exxon and coal manufacturers, had urged the president to not withdraw from the accord.

But to those in his base, the decision will reap some political rewards, O'Connell said.

Those are the voters in the industrial Midwest, many of them lifelong Democrats, who in the past election shifted to Trump, believing he may be able to stem the hollowing-out of manufacturing jobs in their region.

And to the blue collar workers in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, a global deal calling on the U.S. to lower CO2 emissions is a job killer.

"He made the right move politically because he said he was going to put America first, that means including those folks in the equation, in coal country in the industrial Midwest," O'Connell said. "And he put his money where his mouth was."

Read more from Mark Gollom at CBC News

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What Trump’s ‘Covfefe’ Moment Reveals

President Trump’s “covfefe” moment says it all.

Early Wednesday, the president had tweeted what appeared to be an incomplete thought, ending with a nonsense word: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.”

After his apparent mistake sent the political universe into a day of jokes, Trump turned it into another “look at me" moment, tweeting: “Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’ ??? Enjoy!”

At a time of turmoil at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – with a press secretary appearing grim-faced and stressed and a communications director having tendered his resignation – “covfefe” showed who’s really in charge of White House communications: Trump himself. His messaging staff is just riding in the chase car.

That suggests a Herculean assignment for those tasked with speaking for the president. Even in the best of times, White House communications is a high-wire act, with scores of aides working to advance the president’s agenda, keep the team “on message,” and wrangle an unruly press corps.

Republicans, not surprisingly, have sympathy for Mr. Spicer.

“I don’t think that you need to fire Sean Spicer,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “You need to enlarge the comms shop. Find talent who can come in and are loyal.”

“The news is just moving faster than ever,” says Mr. O’Connell. “And you have a boss who likes to change subjects in a heartbeat. This is a very, very hard job, no matter who you are. But there still needs to be more strategic planning, because the better the strategic planning, the better the execution.”

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor

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