Inside Politics: Midterm machinations

Some Republicans believe they can still save their House majority, but GOP operatives and donors worry the president still doesn't realize how bad it could be. Plus, President Trump starts talking on the stump about Medicare and Social Security and prepares for a fall pivot to foreign policy. It's all on Inside Politics.

Posted: Sep 10, 2018 12:22 PM
Updated: Sep 10, 2018 1:02 PM

Here are the stories our D.C. insiders are talking about in this week's "Inside Politics" forecast, where you get a glimpse of tomorrow's headlines today.

1. White House's rose-colored glasses

Is the President ready for November? CNN national political correspondent Maeve Reston said she's hearing from Republican operatives and donors worried that President Trump and his top advisers don't realize how bad November's election could be for them.

"There's real concern that he is totally delusional about the chances of keeping the House," Reston said. "That's in part because there aren't a lot of people who are around him willing to tell him the truth."

2. Trump may turn to foreign policy

With the President under siege at home, he may soon borrow a familiar White House tactic: a focus on foreign affairs.

"Presidents often, when they get in trouble at home, go abroad and they find that's a way to escape their troubles," said New York Times White House reporter Michael Shear. Trump will address the UN General Assembly later this month, and has trips to Europe and South America planned for after the election.

"President Trump hasn't always been as successful using the foreign trips as a way of getting away from trouble," said Shear, citing the Helsinski summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "But at least it's an opportunity to change the subject, and if the Democrats do take over the House he'll want to try to do that."

3. Trump talking more about entitlements

President Trump's recent rallies have included a new rallying cry: I'm the one who will save your Social Security and Medicare.

"The President is saying Democrats want to kill Social Security and Medicare, while the Republicans are not going to do anything to it," Bloomberg White House correspondent Toluse Olorunnipa said. Trump is making that promise despite so many of his fellow Republicans vowing to rein in entitlement spending.

"Democrats are pushing back, saying Republicans aren't necessarily trying to save Social Security, their tax cuts are making it harder to fund those programs," said Olorunnipa.

4. Congress eyes new Russia sanctions -- later

After the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, there was a clamor in Congress to do more to punish Russia for election meddling that appears to be going on to this day. But Washington Post congressional reporter Karoun Demirjian said nothing looks imminent.

"The GOP basically said, hold on hold on, we're going to go through a step-by-step process first," said Demirjian. "That process began in earnest last week, it's picking up steam this week. The question is, are they actually going to do anything before the midterm elections come about? It's not necessarily clear that they have the time or inclination to do so."

5. GOP hopes all politics still local

And from CNN's chief national correspondent John King:

Last week there was evidence of a dip in President Trump's approval rating. This week the overwhelming focus was on White House chaos and the character and temperament questions raised by the new Bob Woodward book and then the anonymous New York Times essay from a senior administration official.

Not great developments for Republicans trying to protect the GOP House majority, to say the least.

Inside 60 days now to the midterms, most Republicans with significant campaign experience concede the odds of protecting the House majority are bleak -- and concede the past week or two has, to be polite, not been very helpful.

But there are some top GOP strategists who still see a path. Their mantra: make the election about the economy, and local issues; block out President Trump and his Twitter feed as much as possible and get it right when it comes to the nuts and bolts of organizing, turnout and fund-raising.

Even in this group, though, the assessments at the 60-day mark had seeds of worry.

First the math.

"I can still make the case for 15-20," said a longtime GOP strategist involved in 2018 House races, meaning a case that the Republicans lose seats but that Democrats do not get the 23-seat gain needed for the majority. This strategist went on to say, "I can also see 20 to 30, but I believe we are still in play." Meaning still in play to keep the Democratic gains below 23.

A second GOP operative, with some three decades experience, said as of this weekend, "I have us down 17/18 net in the House."

But both operatives pointed to trouble signs beyond any worries about how the President conducts himself.

The powerful national economic news should help GOP candidates. But the second operative said there was growing evidence that "tariffs are starting to have a real impact in the Midwest -- Michigan, for example -- and farm country."

Both operatives also gave Democrats begrudging credit for tapping into concerns about health care costs and access. "Health care is now a roaring issue and the GOP has no answers," the second strategist said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1506866

Reported Deaths: 20637
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2056892545
Lake1006641508
Allen935801017
Hamilton72876550
St. Joseph64730759
Elkhart49383628
Vanderburgh48286528
Tippecanoe43764336
Johnson38300526
Hendricks36427460
Porter34494473
Madison29024543
Clark25868326
Vigo25633345
LaPorte23430309
Monroe23133247
Howard22089379
Delaware21603368
Hancock18686220
Bartholomew18152215
Kosciusko17921203
Warrick16933214
Wayne16230302
Floyd15876257
Grant15364298
Morgan14409231
Boone13514138
Noble11815141
Dearborn11676113
Henry11667201
Shelby11649151
Marshall11337168
Dubois11257152
Jackson10586104
Cass10269143
DeKalb10202130
Lawrence10196220
Huntington10156139
Gibson9583126
Montgomery9274143
Knox9043125
Harrison8983117
Whitley874371
Steuben8603105
Jasper8252115
Clinton818995
Miami8128133
Putnam8128100
Jefferson7849127
Wabash7827139
Ripley7180114
Adams6658102
Daviess6558129
Scott645186
White620483
Clay607175
Greene6064112
Decatur5967120
Wells5944120
Jennings591680
Fayette5786122
Posey552648
LaGrange529697
Randolph5073129
Washington503669
Owen4976100
Fountain475880
Spencer451756
Sullivan443065
Starke440586
Fulton434192
Orange429582
Jay414664
Rush410237
Perry386455
Carroll381749
Franklin377550
Vermillion358362
Pike323445
Parke322538
Tipton317375
Blackford274055
Pulaski272275
Newton233661
Brown228956
Benton219021
Crawford217532
Switzerland197814
Martin189422
Warren175922
Union170219
Ohio124016
Unassigned0739

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2460869

Reported Deaths: 31245
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2660682065
Cuyahoga2589843018
Hamilton1711291714
Montgomery1142371604
Summit1077801391
Lucas917461160
Butler81317942
Stark759401400
Lorain63561792
Warren51721475
Mahoning50412915
Lake47212605
Clermont45258429
Delaware40037212
Trumbull39108755
Medina38036419
Licking37943408
Fairfield34857334
Greene33267422
Portage31942360
Clark31218445
Richland29019423
Wood28563297
Allen25249395
Miami23567395
Muskingum22859245
Columbiana22539403
Wayne21740356
Tuscarawas19252427
Erie18390222
Ashtabula18260342
Marion18111232
Scioto17366207
Ross16832252
Pickaway15948178
Hancock15761228
Geauga15374223
Lawrence14350186
Belmont13767247
Union1375384
Huron13682182
Jefferson13250258
Sandusky13047199
Athens12272106
Knox11850198
Seneca11762200
Darke11111198
Ashland11022178
Washington10836168
Auglaize10540142
Crawford10172175
Shelby10101157
Brown9734140
Fulton9531150
Guernsey9423117
Highland9396148
Defiance9321135
Logan9228142
Clinton9087127
Mercer8902111
Madison8836106
Preble8265162
Williams8127135
Putnam7922135
Ottawa7809121
Champaign7782112
Jackson7582117
Perry731298
Coshocton7210136
Morrow712882
Fayette688687
Pike640586
Hardin6397128
Gallia614791
Adams6000124
Van Wert5923121
Henry586493
Hocking5718104
Wyandot491590
Carroll4909100
Holmes4814161
Paulding414664
Meigs387473
Monroe307468
Noble289351
Harrison287961
Morgan283348
Vinton247945
Unassigned08
Fort Wayne
Clear
23° wxIcon
Hi: 23° Lo: 8°
Feels Like: 15°
Angola
Clear
21° wxIcon
Hi: 22° Lo: 7°
Feels Like: 13°
Huntington
Clear
21° wxIcon
Hi: 23° Lo: 9°
Feels Like: 15°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 24° Lo: 10°
Feels Like: 15°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
20° wxIcon
Hi: 25° Lo: 10°
Feels Like: 13°
Windy conditions are on tap for Saturday with highs near 30 degrees.
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