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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: 295357

Reported Deaths: 5305
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion40796844
Lake25864448
Allen17025289
Elkhart16389209
St. Joseph16125217
Hamilton12225163
Vanderburgh9218112
Tippecanoe807627
Porter770176
Johnson5971161
Hendricks5719154
Vigo563274
Monroe519846
Clark486774
Delaware4721103
Madison4651119
Kosciusko437339
LaPorte436792
Howard321375
Warrick309072
Floyd301177
Bartholomew296262
Wayne292261
Cass291231
Marshall283642
Grant254147
Noble244246
Hancock238949
Henry234136
Boone231754
Dubois229230
Dearborn204629
Jackson200033
Morgan196043
Gibson171622
Knox170715
Clinton170420
Shelby170453
Lawrence169246
DeKalb168428
Adams160019
Miami150414
Daviess149143
Wabash148118
Fayette141233
Steuben139713
LaGrange135127
Jasper134911
Harrison134624
Montgomery127926
Whitley127410
Ripley121414
Decatur119842
Posey116613
Putnam115626
Wells115427
Huntington115210
White115221
Randolph114619
Clay111821
Jefferson110314
Scott97918
Greene97553
Jay93012
Starke87021
Sullivan85515
Perry80521
Spencer7957
Jennings79114
Fulton78717
Fountain7257
Washington6966
Carroll65313
Orange64828
Franklin63525
Owen5676
Vermillion5662
Newton53412
Parke5296
Tipton52826
Blackford50011
Rush5006
Pike49618
Pulaski36410
Martin3425
Brown3153
Benton3101
Crawford2711
Union2551
Switzerland2453
Warren2272
Ohio2227
Unassigned0265

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 351419

Reported Deaths: 5996
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin48389665
Cuyahoga34096734
Hamilton28674371
Montgomery19082225
Butler14138144
Lucas13446406
Summit12431309
Stark8122197
Warren770375
Mahoning6772299
Lake625466
Lorain590297
Clermont541946
Delaware521435
Licking506275
Fairfield505163
Trumbull4969144
Greene489662
Clark486664
Marion451451
Allen446384
Wood4243107
Medina413354
Miami398565
Pickaway387948
Columbiana328496
Portage323171
Wayne303593
Tuscarawas299557
Richland293929
Mercer281237
Ross234559
Hancock225336
Muskingum223610
Auglaize218925
Putnam218649
Darke208058
Erie205565
Ashtabula204753
Geauga189451
Scioto186713
Lawrence181336
Athens17954
Union17928
Shelby176715
Seneca165018
Belmont151529
Madison151018
Sandusky144427
Preble143821
Huron139218
Holmes137039
Defiance131121
Knox118818
Logan118313
Fulton117225
Ottawa114730
Crawford114216
Washington112427
Clinton100314
Williams9938
Jefferson9894
Ashland98322
Highland96317
Henry94422
Brown9324
Champaign8935
Jackson87312
Fayette86617
Van Wert8596
Morrow8312
Hardin82518
Guernsey79213
Coshocton78813
Perry73312
Pike7081
Adams70611
Wyandot68916
Gallia68113
Paulding61710
Hocking58511
Noble56121
Carroll41610
Meigs36312
Monroe29921
Morgan2342
Vinton2075
Harrison1823
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