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Will Trump speak out on Rep. King's controversial comments?

Republicans begin turning on Iowa Rep. Steve King, Black leaders in South Carolina wonder why Joe Biden isn't calling, the president appears in no rush to replace departed Cabinet members, and Mike Pence isn't winning many fans with his handling of the budget standoff. It's all on Inside Politics.

Posted: Jan 14, 2019 9:20 AM
Updated: Jan 14, 2019 9:29 AM

Here are the stories our panel of top political reporters will be watching for in the year ahead, in this week's "Inside Politics" forecast.

1. Steve King's future

Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa has a history of making racially inflammatory remarks. But his fellow Republicans may finally have had enough.

In an interview last week with The New York Times, King said, "white nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization -- how did that language become offensive?"

"Steve King has been in Congress for 15 years. He's been making comments like this for quite some time," New York Times congressional correspondent Julie Hirschfeld Davis said. "But Republicans now are coming forward and saying this is unacceptable. You have Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader. Steve Scalise, the Republican whip, saying he has to apologize for this."

Several other GOP lawmakers have spoken out as well. But King's future in Congress could rest in President Donald Trump's hands.

"President Trump was very close with Steve King from the very beginning, before he declared his candidacy," Davis said. "Steve King was talking about a border wall long before Donald Trump was talking about a border wall. And obviously President Trump has faced some of the same questions about his rhetoric. So it will be very interesting to see how the President deals with this. There's going to be mounting pressure for the president to say something."

2. The Party of Trump

Will Trump face a 2020 primary challenge?

Before we know the answer, the Republican National Committee may officially endorse his re-nomination.

"The fact that the RNC could be considering this really shows that there's real nervousness among Republicans about the prospect of a primary challenge," said Associated Press Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace. "If the RNC does come out and formally endorse him, it would make it all the more difficult for a Republican challenger to use any kind of party apparatus, to get on the stage with Trump in a debate in the primary."

The last president to face a serious primary challenge: George H.W. Bush in 1992. Many say it contributed to his re-election loss to Bill Clinton.

"It would be almost impossible for a Republican primary challenger to defeat Trump in 2020," Pace said. "But there is real worry that they could at least beat him up, damage him and weaken him going into the general election."

3. Joe Biden & the black vote

Meanwhile on the Democratic side, former Vice President Joe Biden is still weighing whether to run. And his indecision may cost him in a key early primary state.

"Joe Biden is beloved in South Carolina, particularly by African-American Democrats, but they had some pretty harsh words to say about him," CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson said.

"He isn't showing any sense of urgency. He hasn't really reached out to many folks in South Carolina. They have no idea what he's going to do," Henderson said.

Other candidates are taking advantage of Biden's absence.

"They've heard from Elizabeth Warren, they've heard from Cory Booker. They've even heard from (Democratic Oregon Sen.) Jeff Merkley," Henderson said. "So there is a lot of frustration on the ground in a state like South Carolina, where black Democrats are going to be so important. Many say if you are Joe Biden, that might be the first state you actually want to compete in and could actually win. But so far they feel like he's letting a little grass grow under his feet as others really work hard and show a sense of urgency."

4. Trump's "acting" Cabinet

Back in Washington, Trump is slowly shaking up his Cabinet. But while many top officials have left, few have actually been replaced.

"At the only Cabinet meeting so far of 2019, President Trump was seated next to an acting secretary of defense and an acting secretary of interior," Wall Street Journal White House reporter Michael Bender said. "Across from him is the acting attorney general. To the right is the acting head of the White House Budget Office. And he's acting because the former White House budget chief is now acting chief of staff."

Bender said Trump is in no rush to name permanent replacements.

"There's a thought in the Oval Office that these acting chiefs are more beholden to the President," Bender said.

5. VP shutdown shade

And from CNN's chief national correspondent John King:

Most of the Republican frustration about a shutdown without a clear exit strategy is directed at Trump.

But among Republicans on Capitol Hill and at GOP-leaning organizations across Washington, there is also a good deal of grumbling about Vice President Mike Pence.

On the Hill, the biggest beef is that Pence was apparently clueless to the fact the President would pull a last-minute about-face and refuse to sign a government spending bill that did not include funding for his border wall. Both House and Senate GOP leaders had made clear they viewed a shutdown as a major political mistake, and the vice president was a constant presence at the Capitol as Congress put together the pre-shutdown spending plan.

The VP and his office are also a frequent point of contact for GOP establishment groups that do not like the President or are viewed suspiciously by him. Many of those groups feel blindsided, too, and see it as proof the vice president has limited influence and isn't afforded much respect by the boss.

"He may be permanently damaged by this two-week period," said one veteran GOP strategist who advises a number of lawmakers and organizations.

Some of this grumbling is without a doubt unfair or exaggerated and comes amid a broader GOP bad mood about the shutdown and the Democrats' rise to power in the House of Representatives. Plus, the VP takes some of the hits for the grumbling over the decision by his former chief of staff, Nick Ayers, to leave the White House instead of stepping in as the President's new chief of staff.

Still, several GOP operatives mentioned Pence unfavorably in exchanges about the shutdown and GOP anxiety with the White House. Their view, at a minimum, is that a vice president very conscious about his standing in the party and his own political future should realize this is a low moment.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 751242

Reported Deaths: 13795
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1032931788
Lake556911009
Allen41692692
St. Joseph36990565
Hamilton36588417
Elkhart29398461
Tippecanoe22901226
Vanderburgh22556400
Porter19356325
Johnson18471389
Hendricks17682317
Clark13226195
Madison13149344
Vigo12614253
LaPorte12419221
Monroe12207176
Delaware10966198
Howard10321225
Kosciusko9630121
Hancock8576146
Bartholomew8169157
Warrick7860156
Floyd7811180
Grant7242179
Wayne7162201
Boone6966103
Morgan6761141
Dubois6218118
Marshall6209116
Cass6016110
Henry5900110
Dearborn589878
Noble581488
Jackson509076
Shelby501496
Lawrence4742122
Gibson444894
Clinton442355
Harrison441875
DeKalb439885
Montgomery438090
Whitley406543
Huntington402681
Steuben400159
Miami395269
Jasper388054
Knox375991
Putnam372960
Wabash361983
Ripley347170
Adams345555
Jefferson335886
White331953
Daviess3033100
Wells295281
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273072
Scott270156
Clay267148
Washington246036
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234531
Starke228058
Fountain220948
Sullivan214643
Owen211858
Fulton202942
Jay200932
Carroll193620
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion174844
Franklin170335
Tipton166246
Parke149416
Pike138234
Blackford136232
Pulaski120647
Newton113936
Brown104243
Crawford102516
Benton101714
Martin91715
Warren84015
Switzerland8148
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0420

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1108736

Reported Deaths: 20166
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1287201467
Cuyahoga1157922211
Hamilton813971250
Montgomery525481043
Summit484271001
Lucas43353820
Butler39013606
Stark33332929
Lorain25672505
Warren24591303
Mahoning22370603
Lake21207388
Clermont20117253
Delaware18852136
Licking16662222
Fairfield16574204
Trumbull16548482
Medina15610271
Greene15281248
Clark14237306
Wood13292200
Portage13251215
Allen11913239
Richland11605211
Miami10849225
Wayne9141223
Columbiana9032230
Muskingum8906135
Pickaway8663122
Tuscarawas8649250
Marion8642138
Erie8056165
Ashtabula7160179
Hancock6998132
Ross6944161
Geauga6838151
Scioto6534106
Belmont6157174
Union584549
Lawrence5731102
Jefferson5678158
Huron5546122
Sandusky5442126
Darke5420129
Seneca5348128
Washington5319109
Athens523960
Auglaize502187
Mercer487385
Shelby476895
Knox4571112
Madison444266
Ashland435797
Putnam4336103
Defiance432399
Fulton432074
Crawford4037110
Brown402461
Logan387677
Preble3855105
Clinton379166
Ottawa373681
Highland359665
Williams348278
Champaign344759
Guernsey324953
Jackson318254
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285450
Hardin275265
Henry273467
Holmes2701101
Coshocton269060
Van Wert247264
Adams243256
Pike242835
Gallia240650
Wyandot234556
Hocking220563
Carroll197348
Paulding176542
Meigs148440
Monroe136344
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan109624
Vinton85517
Unassigned03
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