Trump slams 'crazy, lunatic' constitutional amendment in midterm endgame

President Donald Trump is slamming the constitutionally protected provision of birthright citizenship as a "...

Posted: Nov 2, 2018 3:24 PM
Updated: Nov 2, 2018 3:24 PM

President Donald Trump is slamming the constitutionally protected provision of birthright citizenship as a "crazy, lunatic policy" in an incendiary endgame to the midterm election campaign, which could save the Senate but risks putting the House beyond reach.

With four days to go, Trump is riding the strategy on which he has effectively bet his presidency -- a refusal to broaden his coalition and incessant appeals to his base -- into its biggest test so far. Yet his approach risks alienating more moderate voters in tight House races.

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Commercial and residential property

Donald Trump

Elections and campaigns

Electoral districts

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government organizations - US

Housing affordability

Immigration

Immigration, citizenship and displacement

International relations and national security

Military

Political Figures - US

Political organizations

Politics

Real estate

Residential property

US Congress

US Democratic Party

US federal government

US House of Representatives

US political parties

US Republican Party

US Senate

White House

Constitutional law

Elections (by type)

Law and legal system

Midterm elections

RELATED: Numbers to know about birthright citizenship

In one example of his all-in play to his most loyal supporters, Trump issued a new attack on the 14th Amendment, which guarantees that even children born on US soil to undocumented immigrants are American citizens, at a rally Thursday night in Missouri. The President has dubiously argued he has the power to override the provision with an executive order.

And a day after unveiling the most racist national political ad in a generation, Trump vowed tough restrictions on asylum and turned his attention to consolidating GOP power in a trip to Missouri to support one of his proteges, Josh Hawley, who is well placed to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

The President even said that the US troops he plans to dispatch to the border to address what he claims is a national crisis could turn their guns on members of a migrant group -- currently hundreds of miles away in Mexico -- if they threw rocks at the troops.

"Democrats want open borders and want to invite caravan after caravan into our country," Trump told the euphoric, fired-up crowd, which lapped up his fiery rhetoric on immigration and chanted "Build that wall! Build that wall!" in a display of the potency of the issue among the President's base.

The unusually distinct races for the two chambers of Congress this year mean that a scorched earth message that works well in Senate races in Trump country may backfire in House contests in more moderate territory.

But in the final days of the campaign, the President has escalated rhetorical assaults on undocumented immigrants and the traveling migrant group to new heights, delighting base voters but infuriating Republicans in swing districts and GOP strategists worried about the House.

That, and a travel schedule that appears to be mostly geared to getting red state Senate candidates over the line and toppling vulnerable Democrats, suggests the President can read the polls just as well as anyone else.

Most pundits are staying away from predictions after Trump's shock win over Hillary Clinton in 2016. But a majority of models suggest the most likely outcome on Tuesday is that Democrats take the House and Republicans keep control of the Senate or even increase their majority by a couple of seats.

CNN's Harry Enten assesses in his forecast that Democrats will win 225 seats -- and the House majority -- while Republicans will fall to 210 seats. A Democratic win of 202 seats or 262 seats is within the margin of error.

Republicans will hold 52 seats -- and keep the majority -- in the Senate, while Democrats will hold just 48, according to Enten's analysis. Anything between Republicans holding 48 seats and 56 seats is within the margin of error.

Using presidential symbolism to sell a campaign message

Trump has been flinging flaming campaign trail attacks on immigration for days.

But on Thursday he chose the ornate surroundings of the Roosevelt Room of the White House, often the venue for solemn state announcements, for what was billed as a major policy announcement on asylum.

Yet what followed was a meandering speech, packed with misrepresentations and falsehoods, that lacked the big new plan that White House officials had promised -- other than a vague undertaking to issue an executive order next week.

It was the latest indication that Trump's improvisational and politically motivated pronouncements often have his policy team struggling to catch up. The same thing happened when the President suddenly pledged last month to unveil a middle-class tax cut in the next few weeks -- even though Congress, which has the power of the purse -- was not in session at the time.

The White House has since signaled there will be no movement on tax cuts until January at the earliest.

In place of a major new policy proposal on asylum, the President cranked up the demagoguery, suggesting US troops could actually open fire on members of a migrant group if they ever reach the border.

"They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back," Trump said. "When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I say consider it a rifle," he said, setting out a scenario that is unlikely to come to pass and one of disproportionate force.

His warning alarmed former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, who served as secretary of defense in the Obama administration.

"My reaction ... is one of disgust. That is a wanton incitement of unnecessary violence. It is a distraction, It is a distortion, it is a rank political purpose to use our military like this," Hagel told CNN's Jake Tapper.

"Not in my lifetime have I ever heard those kind of words from a President of the United States."

Trump also said the military was building tent cities for detained migrants, when military officials have said no such construction is underway. He also falsely claimed that his administration has started building his famed border wall, taking credit for an existing project by the federal government to replace one section of fence with a wall.

His latest escalation followed his tweet promoting a campaign video on Wednesday night that effectively equated the Central Americans in the traveling migrant group with a convicted murderer who killed two California deputies.

Hardcore message undercuts Republicans in tight House battles

The President's incessant, incendiary focus on immigration is frustrating some of his fellow Republicans, who have the fate of the House, especially, in mind.

Rep. Ryan Costello, a moderate from Pennsylvania who is retiring after the election, warned that Trump's message could be the last straw for endangered GOP House members.

"I think closing on doom and gloom and scaring people over immigration, that is not going to bring home undecided voters in swing districts," Costello told CNN's Lauren Fox.

"I can't imagine anybody in a close district wants the closing argument to be immigration," Costello said. "Your local message is in competition with what the President is talking about."

Other Trump supporters are frustrated that the President is not talking exclusively about the economy, which grew at 3.5% in the third quarter, has taken the unemployment rate to a 50-year low of 3.7% and has promoted soaring business and consumer confidence.

New jobless figures are expected to give Trump a further boost on Friday with the final release of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics before the election.

But the President has clearly made a decision on the most profitable way to end his campaign -- and he has opted to be true to the populist, politically incorrect persona that won him the White House in the first place.

It's possible the House was already out of reach, given his approval rating in the mid-40s, the fact that many vulnerable GOP lawmakers are running in districts that Clinton won and historical portents that suggest first-term presidents always struggle in the midterm elections.

New polling from CNN suggests that in Trump country at least, his instincts for what his voters want are shrewd.

Among likely Republican Senate voters in Florida, immigration is now an important issue for 33% of voters, up from 22% in mid-October, before he hit on his flaming midterm election closing argument.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 69255

Reported Deaths: 2996
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15029724
Lake7139273
Elkhart463077
Allen3662158
St. Joseph320379
Hamilton2543104
Hendricks1774105
Vanderburgh176312
Cass17549
Johnson1667118
Porter120939
Tippecanoe111811
Clark110945
Madison86265
LaPorte84329
Howard82465
Kosciusko82213
Bartholomew74847
Marshall74422
Floyd71845
Monroe69530
Delaware65452
Boone64446
Dubois64312
Noble63729
Hancock62838
Jackson5544
LaGrange54610
Warrick52830
Shelby52226
Vigo50910
Grant50729
Dearborn47328
Morgan43732
Henry36418
Clinton3603
White34710
Montgomery34221
Wayne33410
Lawrence33127
Decatur31832
Harrison30022
Miami2592
Scott25210
Daviess24919
Greene24034
Putnam2338
Franklin22911
DeKalb2214
Jennings21312
Jasper2102
Gibson2024
Steuben2013
Ripley1907
Perry17212
Orange16424
Starke1647
Fayette1627
Wabash1613
Posey1600
Jefferson1522
Carroll1482
Whitley1486
Fulton1472
Knox1340
Wells1342
Huntington1193
Tipton1176
Washington1171
Spencer1123
Newton11110
Randolph1074
Clay1015
Adams822
Owen821
Jay810
Rush804
Sullivan781
Pulaski711
Brown701
Fountain642
Benton600
Blackford552
Ohio514
Parke481
Pike470
Crawford440
Switzerland430
Martin420
Vermillion420
Union330
Warren191
Unassigned0202

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 95106

Reported Deaths: 3570
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin17404515
Cuyahoga12881482
Hamilton9248248
Lucas5035319
Montgomery409280
Summit3338217
Marion289644
Butler274360
Mahoning2437253
Pickaway236542
Stark1713137
Warren166935
Lorain165077
Columbiana158360
Trumbull1451105
Fairfield126427
Delaware121918
Licking115844
Clark109214
Lake105436
Wood95458
Clermont85911
Medina84833
Miami78137
Tuscarawas75614
Portage72460
Allen66742
Greene63511
Belmont59026
Richland54712
Ashtabula54445
Erie53527
Geauga53544
Mercer53513
Wayne50858
Ross4194
Huron3784
Ottawa36125
Athens3501
Sandusky34317
Darke34126
Madison33610
Hancock3332
Holmes3226
Auglaize2265
Lawrence2250
Union2221
Jefferson2103
Muskingum1991
Scioto1991
Putnam19817
Washington19822
Coshocton1856
Knox1857
Preble1722
Crawford1685
Seneca1673
Shelby1644
Morrow1602
Clinton1536
Hardin15312
Champaign1502
Fulton1411
Highland1361
Ashland1333
Defiance1324
Logan1302
Wyandot1257
Williams1243
Brown1181
Guernsey1127
Hocking1119
Carroll1105
Perry1093
Henry1081
Fayette1020
Monroe9118
Pike700
Van Wert701
Jackson680
Paulding620
Gallia581
Adams562
Vinton302
Meigs260
Harrison211
Morgan200
Noble160
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 57°
Angola
Overcast
55° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 55°
Huntington
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 55°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
54° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 54°
Van Wert
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 54°
Warmer Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events