Trump, Pelosi Take Hard Line On Border Wall Funds Ahead Of Lame-Duck Session

President Donald Trump hedged Wednesday when asked whether he would be willing to provoke a government shutdown in the weeks ahead to extract billions of dollars for a border wall from Congress before Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in January.

“I don’t know. I can’t tell you that. No, I can’t commit to that, but it’s possible,” Trump said at a news conference.

Until the new Congress is sworn in, Republicans are still operating with a slim two-seat majority in the Senate and an advantage of more than 40 seats in the House. The GOP will have at least two additional Senate seats in January after Tuesday’s elections, but Democrats are lined up to have a significant majority in the lower chamber.

“Yes, we have a better situation in the Senate in the new year, but we have a worse situation in the House,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.

Congressional leaders on both sides acknowledge they have much on their agenda for their lame-duck session and not a whole lot of time to get it all done.

“If you’re the Republicans, you want to get any possible big-ticket item through now and try to navigate this gauntlet versus when Nancy Pelosi is going to have the gavel in her hand,” O’Connell said.

Read more from Stephen Loiaconi at Sinclair Broadcast Group

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Trump Prepares For 'Beautiful' War With House Democrats

President Trump said Wednesday he's hoping for a "beautiful" relationship with the new Democratic-led House, but also said he's ready to go to war with them if he has to.

He might get to see both. At a 90-minute White House press briefing, Trump sounded optimistic and even enthusiastic about working with the new Democratic majority. He told reporters at a post-election news conference, “it really could be a beautiful, bipartisan type of situation.”

In his first two years in office, Trump has shown a willingness to work with Democrats to strike deals he supports. He predicted he would try again in areas such as trade, infrastructure spending, and lowering the price of prescription drugs.

“I really believe we’ll be able to do that,” Trump said Wednesday. “I think we are going to have a lot of reason to do that.”

He was also optimistic he could find a way forward on a middle-class tax cut, and political observers believe there's a possibility of bipartisanship next year that could help Trump improve his standing with voters.

But war clouds already seem to be gathering. Democrats mostly oppose Trump's efforts to deregulate, lower taxes, build a border wall, and repeal Obamacare. Those are the sorts of fights that could make it hard to conduct critical negotiations on spending with House Democrats and Senate Republicans.

"President Trump and the White House better staff up with a caravan of lawyers and be prepared for the legal tsunami the Democrats are about to unleash on his White House, because Pelosi's House Democrats are not interested in working with Trump on legislation,” Republican strategist Ford O’Connell told the Washington Examiner. “They want to settle scores. They will likely try to impeach Trump and launch so many investigations and issue so many subpoenas that the government will come to a grinding halt. The Democrats have no interest in putting America first, they only want to cripple Trump."

Read more from Susan Ferrechio at the Washington Examiner

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Pundits Warn Trump Hunt Could Backfire On Dems

Democrats heady with their takeover of the House of Representatives would do well to avoid investigations and impeachment proceedings that might fuel President Trump’s 2020 re-election bid, political operatives say.

The midterm elections yielded newfound authority for Democrats who will now have the power to launch House committee investigations, issue subpoenas and even push for Trump’s impeachment.

“If Pelosi and company overshoot as Senate Democrats did in the Kavanaugh confirmation, they will hand President Trump re-election and the GOP the House back in 2020,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.

He said Democrats — with their own electoral base to satisfy — have “no interest” in working with Trump on legislation as they want to “settle scores.”

Newly elected U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Boston), however, isn’t playing by the rules outlined by O’Connell and Dennehy.

“This president has proven time and again that he is morally and ethically unfit to lead, so impeachment is certainly on the table,” said Pressley in a statement.

Read more from Alexi Cohan and Mary Markos at the Boston Herald

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Blue Wave Hits Red Wall

With GOP Senate candidate Mike Braun of Indiana declared the winner over incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, and a stunning outcome apparently looming for Democrats in Florida, it looks like the vaunted blue wave touted by Democrats and the mainstream media has hit a red wall.

In Florida, in a potential shocker signaling Democrats could be in for a long night, GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis jumped out to a 90,000 vote lead over charismatic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum with 97 percent of the vote tallied.

Perhaps even more surprising: GOP Senate candidate Rick Scott, with 97 percent of the vote recorded, was leading incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by about 58,000 votes.

A Nelson loss to Scott would flip the seat to Republicans and many analysts believe it would all but close the books on any realistic shot Democrats would have this cycle of retaking control of the Senate.

GOP strategist Ford O’Connell tells Newsmax: “It tells you that Trump is still popular in the state of Florida. It probably also tells you that Democrats probably shouldn’t have gone so far left with a candidate like Gillum, and try to encroach into the southeast.”

The larger issue for Democrats as the night goes on: If the polls were that far off in Florida, what can they expect as other races come in across the country?

O’Connell remarked: “Obviously the entire time they [the polls] were favoring Gillum and Nelson, no question about it.”

Read more at Newsmax

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9 Reasons Why The Polls May Be All Wrong Again

For months now, pundits and pollsters have been predicting a political bloodbath for Republicans this election. The House, they said, was really a lost cause. The only question was whether the GOP could duck the “blue wave” just enough to hold onto control of the Senate.

Talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh has dismissed the polling this election as no more accurate than it was in 2016. In fact, “El Rushbo” suggested some negative polls were intended to depress conservative turnout.

In the past 48 hours, curiously, several mainstream pollsters and data analysts confessed this week that neither a red advance nor a blue wave would really surprise them. In other words, they agree there could be a systemic polling flaw in the run-up to this year’s election.

Soon, voters will find out whether the prognosticators will once again spend Election Night daubing egg off their faces. Here are nine recent indicators suggesting that they may:

6. Pollsters May Have Miscalculated the Turnout

Midterms results vary widely depending on turnout, and how many voters will turn out to cast ballots in midterms is difficult to predict. GOP Strategist Ford O’Connell tells Newsmax: “I agree with the uncertainty expressed by several pollsters and data experts this week, including Peter Hart and Nate Silver, who see the outcome of this election as especially unpredictable. “Polling is not an exact science,” O’Connell cautions. “A lot of it is art.”

O’Connell says there’s one demographic whose turnout will serve as the best indicator of how Republicans will fare Tuesday: Seniors. “I’m not even looking at those [MSM poll] numbers,” he says. “I’m looking at seniors. I’m more concerned about a drop in senior voting than I am about an increase in any other group, because seniors are just so reliably GOP, especially for the midterms.”

Read more from Michael Dorstewitz at Newsmax

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Trump's Refusal To Disappoint Rally Crowds Raises 2020 Concerns

When the country reeled from a deadly synagogue shooting and a package bomb scare last month, President Trumppledged to “tone down” his harsh rhetoric on the stump — but his rally crowds wouldn’t let him.

Mr. Trump was left wondering whether he would be able to soften his tone for the next two years and the 2020 re-election race, when he might need a lighter touch to win over independents and shore up soft support from 2016.

The thousands packing his midterm rallies in the immediate aftermath of the shocking crimes clamored for Mr. Trump’s trademark attacks on political foes.

They broke out in chants of “lock her up” at the mention of Hillary Clinton and “CNN sucks” when he called out the news network, despite both being among the more than a dozen targets of package bombs purportedly mailed by Cesar Sayoc, a deranged Trump supporter.

Mr. Trump refused to disappoint the rally crowds, having the most consequential midterm election in a generation to worry about. He also says he worries that playing nice would risk him getting “swamped” by the fierce opposition on Capitol Hill and in newsrooms across the country.

But in a rare self-critique, Mr. Trump told Sinclair Broadcasting Group that he regrets the harsh tone of his first two years in office.

Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist closely aligned with the White House, said Mr. Trump is someone who will do whatever is needed to win, including changing his tone. That might not be necessary, though.

“A big part of his brand has been his fiery rhetoric, and I think there is a portion of his supporters that do expect that,” he said. “Obviously it does rub some independents the wrong way. But what we noticed is that independents also seem to care a little bit more about results than the package they come in.”

Just before Tuesday’s election, an ABC News poll showed Republicans making significant gains with independent female voters.

That key demographic split evenly — 43-41 percent —among Democratic and Republican House candidates in the survey, erasing a 33-point Democrat lead in October.

“The reason is that they don’t like it when people aren’t delivering results,” Mr. O’Connell said. “The president will make the judgment call on whether he has to moderate his rhetoric at all. But if he continues to deliver on his promises, chances are he will be the favorite to win re-election.”

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

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Oversight Democrats Ready To Pounce On Trump If They Win The House

Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are poised to launch several investigations into the Trump administration should they take back control of the House on Election Day.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on the committee who would likely become the new committee chairman, is expected to pursue charges of waste, fraud, and abuse within the Trump administration. A Democratic aide on the committee said that could include the Trump administration’s security clearance policy, “multiple ethics scandals” involving senior administration officials, the administration’s U.S.-Mexico border policies, and the administration’s “troubling pattern of politically-motivated attacks on government watchdogs, ethics experts, law enforcement officials, and career government employees.”

Democratic leaders of both the House Oversight and House Judiciary Committees could also go forward with dozens of subpoena requests and investigations that they say have been stifled by Republicans.

One Republican strategist said he expects Democrats will launch “so many investigations and hand out so many subpoenas that they could conceivably bring the government to a grinding halt.”

“Their goal is not to be a check on the Trump administration but to end the Trump administration,” Ford O’Connell told the Washington Examiner. “Their focus would likely be Trump’s personal finances and the personal finances of others in the White House and conflicts of interests. But this won’t be about transparency and good government, it’ll be about settling scores and getting even.”

Read more from Kelly Cohen at the Washington Examiner

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Trump Implores Voters To Protect GOP Gains: 'Stop The Radical Resistance In Its Tracks'

President Trump intensified his closing campaign argument Monday in three key midwestern states, urging voters to “stop the radical resistance in its tracks” and to protect the gains of his political movement as voters decide control of Congress.

He and GOP leaders on Capitol Hill continued to express optimism over Tuesday’s elections, though the final indicators, from late-breaking polls to early voting tallies, suggested Democrats are poised for significant gains from Congress to governor’s mansions across the country.

More Democrats voted early than Republicans in Florida, home to a number of key races, while in Arizona, Republicans’ traditional voter-turnout advantage shrank in early voting, according to state statistics.

At stake are all 435 U.S. House seats, 35 Senate seats and 36 state governorships — and Mr. Trump’s ability to keep his agenda on track.

More than at any other time of this campaign, Mr. Trump described Election Day as a make-or-break moment for his presidency and the political movement that brought him to power.

Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist close to the White House, said the final stops on Mr. Trump’s campaign swing highlight how the midterm can impact his reelection bid in 2020.

“The biggest worry for the White House in terms of re-election is making sure they have a Republican governor in Florida and Ohio because it just makes organizing those states all the easier,” he said. “If you look at his final travel schedule the two things that stick out on your map is Florida and Ohio, not just because of Senate races but because of gubernatorial races. They know that to win re-election they’ve got to win Florida and Ohio.”

Read more from Dave Boyer and Stephen Dinan at The Washington Times

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U.S. Heads Toward First Major Electoral Battle In Two Years

The midterm elections to be held on Tuesday are the first major electoral battle since U.S. President Donald Trump clinched the White House. Now, after two years, Democrats are eager to get back in the ring and slug it out with the GOP.

But no one has the crystal ball to tell who will win, especially after pundits, polls and political soothsayers have been wrong before.

The wild card in this year's midterms is the House of Representatives, while Republicans are expected to keep control of the Senate.

Democrats need to take away at least 23 Republican seats to have control of the House. On Saturday, the often-cited Real Clear Politics "Battle for the House 2018" poll had Democrats ahead by 203 to 196. The race has been tighter in recent weeks, with Democrats making gains even in areas that tend to lean conservative, the non-partisan Cook Political Report found.

Republican Strategist and TV news personality Ford O'Connell, however, said that while historical precedent is in Democrats' favor, "the only question here is whether the Republicans in the House can minimize their losses and hold onto the House by a sliver."

The Senate is expected to remain firmly in the hands of Republicans, with the oft-cited Website FiveThirtyEight predicting a 1-in-7 chance that Democrats will win the Senate.

"Republicans are going to retain control of the U.S. Senate, the only question is by how much. Because so long as they win Texas, Tennessee and North Dakota -- and everyone thinks they're going to -- they have 50 senators," O'Connell said.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua

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Trump’s Immigration Push Lifts Senate GOP

President Trump’s focus on immigration has lifted Republican chances of building their Senate majority, even as it’s rattling GOP lawmakers in the House. 

Republican Senate candidates in Indiana, Missouri, Montana and North Dakota have all seen their fortunes rise in the last few weeks as Trump talks up immigration and makes a flurry of campaign appearances, including in Indianapolis on Friday night. 

Immigration isn’t the only reason for the Senate GOP’s rising confidence in the last few weeks. The party also believes its Senate candidates were helped by the fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. 

But it’s unmistakable that the GOP candidates in red states won by Trump in 2016 are on the rise as Trump zeroes in on what he says is an imminent danger from illegal immigration. 

What makes the rise all the more remarkable is that it is happening as GOP strategists express fears that the House majority could be slipping away. 

One such strategist, Ford O’Connell, predicted that Democrats would likely pick up 30 House seats — seven more than the 23 Democrats need to win the majority — but that Republicans will keep control of the Senate.

“The Republicans are going to keep the Senate. The only question is whether they make gains or they flatline,” he said. 

O’Connell says Senate Republican candidates such as Josh Hawley in Missouri, Mike Braun in Indiana, Matt Rosendale in Montana and Patrick Morrisey in West Virginia have momentum. 

“When we look at the polling, immigration is the issue that fires up Republicans the most and is also the issue that best correlates to turnout,” O’Connell added. 

Read more from Alexander Bolton at The Hill

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