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On the roster: Dems need more DiFi, less AOC - Dem debate over Rust Belt vs. Sun Belt intensifies - GOP donors worry about Trump’s 2020 strategy - House to pressure Senate GOP on Trump emergency - Where are we going? Off campus
DEMS NEED MORE DIFI, LESS AOC
When she was first elected to the Senate from California a generation ago, Dianne Feinstein was one of the faces of the new “third way” Democratic Party: A social liberal who was also an economic moderate and tough on national security issues.
It took almost two decades for Democrats to recover from their 1968 hangover. But a new generation of leaders like Feinstein would not be so easily pigeonholed by Republicans as radical peacenik socialists who favored big government over economic growth.
On Friday, Feinstein found herself face to face with the next big thing in Democratic politics: Pressure mobs demanding urgent action to institute big government programs at the cost of economic growth.
If you didn’t see it during the initial social media splurp, you should certainly watch it. An environmentalist group brought schoolchildren to Feinstein’s office where they hectored the 85-year-old senator for not having signed on to the Green New Deal.
As she’s patiently engaging with the lower-school students, explaining that she has her own environmental policy preferences not drafted by a freshman congresswoman from New York, a high schooler piped up to interrupt Feinstein to tell her that there’s no time to wait.
“You know what’s interesting about this group?” Feinstein said. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I know what I’m doing.”
Writer Caitlin Flanagan summed it up beautifully: “The resulting encounter was so gonzo that it made Gran Torino look like The Pajama Game. At the 13th hour of a long career, Feinstein did something that the kids weren’t expecting. She took them seriously, and she patiently explained some truths about American political life that they didn’t understand. And then she did the one thing that an old woman isn’t supposed to do. She said that she wasn’t good at her job in spite of being old, but because of it.”
Liberal activists were outraged that Feinstein would dare contradict the claims of the children, who, as we know, are the future. The plan was asymmetric political warfare: Catch a politician in front of a basket of adorables, pull out the iPhones and make them squirm.
But Feinstein refused to engage on their terms. She acted like adults formerly did, which is to expect that children speak to their elders with due deference and respect. You do not shout at ladies and gentlemen old enough to be your grandparents, certainly not when they are speaking to you respectfully and courteously.
(Just a word here for activists – liberal, conservative or any other flavor – who press fifth graders into duty as political props: Don’t.)
While Feinstein was puncturing the pieties of the Green New Deal in San Francisco, her fellow moderates elsewhere in America were getting punctured themselves.
The NYT accompanied some of the new moderate Democrats in this year’s House freshman class as they held town halls back home. There, it was not the children of environmental activists but rather conservative constituents of their traditionally Republican districts.
“Last week, home for the first district workweek of their term, moderate Democrats got to see firsthand how the raised voices of a small but vocal number of lawmakers such as Representatives [Rashida Tlaib], Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York are reverberating in far more marginal districts. Some, like Representative Andy Kim of New Jersey, were asked to account for the ‘uptick of negative rhetoric’ coming from the freshman class.”
Democrats’ new House majority doesn’t rely on reliable districts like those represented by Tlaib, Omar and Ocasio-Cortez but rather those districts that Hillary Clinton either lost or won narrowly in 2016. And yet, it’s the old-school Democrats from old-school Democratic districts who are grabbing all the attention.
As freshman Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, was asked: “How long do you intend to ride that train with those people?”
Voters seem to be wondering the same thing.
A new survey from Public Opinion Strategies, the Cadillac brand of Republican pollsters, gives the GOP some cause for optimism. The poll found Democrats up in the generic congressional ballot by just 2 points overall and trailing by 7 points among suburban voters. That sounds like a good way to give back the House.
It’s just one poll from one Republican polling firm, but it’s yet another sign that a lot of Democrats are taking the wrong lessons from 2018.
If they want to win in 2020, they’ll need more DiFi and less AOC.
THE RULEBOOK: BE WARNED
“The causes of hostility among nations are innumerable. … Of this description are the love of power or the desire of pre-eminence and dominion – the jealousy of power, or the desire of equality and safety.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 6
TIME OUT: LUMIÉRES, CAMÉRA, ACTION!
NatGeo: “Auguste and Louis Lumière invented a camera that could record, develop, and project film, but they regarded their creation as little more than a curious novelty. Shortly after the public premiere of their film, Louis was said to have remarked: ‘Le cinéma est une invention sans avenir—Cinema is an invention without a future.’ This prediction was the Lumières only scientific miscalculation, for this sibling pair created an unprecedented form of art and entertainment that radically influenced popular culture. Their Cinématographe introduced a crucial innovation: By projecting moving images onto a large screen, it created a new, shared experience of cinema. … The Lumières held the world’s first public movie screening on December 28, 1895, at the Grand Café in Paris. Their directorial debut was La sortie des ouvriers de l’usine Lumière (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory). While today this premiere would be considered rather prosaic viewing … the clarity and realism of the black-and-white, 50-second film created a sensation.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 41.8 percent
Average disapproval: 54.4 percent
Net Score: -12.6 points
Change from one week ago: no change
[Average includes: Fox News: 46% approve - 52% disapprove; Gallup: 44% approve - 52% unapproved; CNN: 42% approve - 54% disapproval; IBD: 39% approve - 57% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve - 57% disapprove.]
DEM DEBATE OVER RUST BELT VS. SUN BELT INTENSIFIES
NYT: “As the Democratic race takes flight, with one or more candidates entering the race almost every week … one side of a long-simmering debate within the party [remains]: Should Democrats redouble their efforts to win back the industrial heartland … or turn their attention to more demographically promising Sun Belt states… The numerical swap between the three Rust Belt states that handed Mr. Trump the White House and the most alluring trio of Sun Belt targets is nearly even: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin have a combined 46 electoral votes, while North Carolina, Georgia and Arizona offer 42. … The dispute is not merely a tactical one — it goes to the heart of how Democrats envision themselves becoming a majority party. The question is whether that is accomplished through a focus on kitchen-table topics like health care and jobs, aimed at winning moderates and disaffected Trump voters, or by unapologetically elevating matters of race and identity, such as immigration, to mobilize young people and minorities with new fervor.”
Silicon Valley <3’s Cory Booker, and that could be a problem - Recode: “If any Democratic presidential candidate has tapped into the Silicon Valley zeitgeist over their careers, it is Cory Booker. And in 2019, that could be as much a political liability as it is a financial asset. Although the presidential candidate has collected half a million dollars from the internet industry over his five years in the Senate, he found himself traipsing into a very different fundraising environment when he arrived in Silicon Valley over the weekend. Silicon Valley is itself a minefield that in some ways sums up the broader political challenge for Booker in 2020: He’s running as a liberal on issues including tech regulation, but the progressive left holds him in suspicion — and he could face more as he begins to court tech money more openly. As one political activist put it: ‘He’s going to run into problems as the public becomes more aware that he’s in bed with our generation’s Big Tobacco.’”
Warren swears off ‘big money’ fundraisers with wealthy donors - Fox News: “Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren on Monday promised not to hold any political fundraisers with wealthy donors as she runs for the White House, saying she will instead depend on small-dollar contributions to fund her campaign. ‘That means no fancy receptions or big money fundraisers only with people who can write the big checks,’ Warren wrote in a post titled ‘The best president money can’t buy,’ on Medium on Monday. … ‘I’ve already said that I will run my campaign differently—no Washington lobbyist money, no PAC money, no auditioning billionaires to run a super PAC for me, and no dark-money groups devoted to supporting my campaign.’ Warren said that when she thanks people for donating to her campaign, it will not be ‘based on the size’ of their donation. She also said she would rely on small-dollar contributions and grassroots donations and volunteers.”
Bernie and the jets - Politico: “In his campaign launch video last week, Bernie Sanders singled out the fossil fuel industry for criticism, listing it among the special interests he planned to take on. But in the final months of the 2016 campaign, Sanders repeatedly requested and received the use of a carbon-spewing private jet for himself and his traveling staff when he served as a surrogate campaigner for Hillary Clinton. In the two years following the presidential election, Sanders continued his frequent private jet travel, spending at least $342,000 on the flights. Increased scrutiny of his travel practices, which are at odds with his positions on wealth inequality and climate change, are among the challenges Sanders will face as he makes his second White House run.”
Sanders campaign claims 1 million volunteers - Fox News: “Just six days after launching his 2020 presidential bid, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is celebrating a ‘historic threshold,’ claiming 1 million people have signed up to lend a hand to his White House campaign. ‘Less than one week after we began, we now have one million volunteers in every congressional district in this country who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and get to work to make sure we win the Democratic nomination, that we defeat Trump, and that we transform the economic and political life of our country,’ Sanders said in a video posted to his 9 million followers on Twitter. … Sanders added, ‘So let me thank the one million people who have already signed on and let me ask those of you who haven’t, come on board.’”
In Iowa stop, Hickenlooper throws shade at senators - Denver Post: “In John Hickenlooper’s first joint appearance with candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, Colorado’s former governor sought to contrast his real-world record with the rhetoric coming from a field that already includes six U.S. senators. ‘I think an awful lot of people in Congress are great at coming up with visions. They’re great at debating the issues; we need dreamers and debaters,’ Hickenlooper said. ‘I’m a doer. … I feel like I’m the one person that has actually gotten people together and gotten stuff done.’ U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, who’ve both announced their candidacies, also spoke at a fundraiser for the Story County Democrats. Hickenlooper is nearing a formal bid following the completion of his second term as governor in January.”
De Blasio draws dozens in Sioux City - NYT: “He seemed at complete ease, shaking hands, posing for selfies and cracking tall guy jokes, as he laid out a plan for Democrats to take back the White House. Perhaps Bill de Blasio’s comfort level was aided by familiarity: This was believed to be his fourth trip to Iowa since he became mayor of New York City in 2014. It could have been the sparse crowd: Only about two dozen people braved blizzard-like conditions in Sioux City Saturday to attend the gathering organized by the Woodbury County Democrats, a traditional stop for presidential hopefuls. … There was no mention Saturday night of the difficulties he has had taming homelessness, repairing the city’s decrepit public housing or the fallout of the recent decision by Amazon to pull out of a plan to build a campus in Long Island City, Queens.”
GOP DONORS WORRY ABOUT TRUMP’S 2020 STRATEGY
Politico: “Late last month, more than 100 major Republican donors gathered at the Trump International Hotel for a presentation from the president’s campaign manager Brad Parscale and other top political hands on their plans to keep the White House in 2020 after a brutal midterm election. But several of the GOP contributors left the two-day retreat in Washington dissatisfied, dogged by essentially the same concern: The president doesn’t really have a strategy to win reelection. They are chiefly worried about how he intends to prevail again in the Rust Belt states that voted for [President Trump] in 2016, but where Democrats performed strongly in last year's midterms. But there are also concerns about whether the president's fundraising apparatus is up to the task, and whether Trump will trample on any strategy or message the campaign does develop, as he frequently does. This account is based on interviews with nearly a dozen people connected to Trump’s reelection, including two donors who attended the retreat and other Republican contributors who’ve given to Trump in the past.”
To rate a Trump challenger, examine previous primaries - FiveThirtyEight: “One big question about 2020 is whether President Trump will face a serious primary challenger for the Republican presidential nomination. … Only one potential opponent has formally launched an exploratory committee — former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld — but there’s speculation that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan might mount his own challenge to Trump. At this stage, this is good news for Trump. Arguably, neither Weld nor Hogan would pose that much of a threat. … It would be incredibly difficult for a primary challenger to actually defeat Trump and claim the GOP nomination… So if a credible opponent does emerge, it may make more sense to judge the campaign by the relative success of the challenger, such as how many votes the candidate wins… In other words, we can better understand just how serious — or not — a challenge to Trump is by comparing it to past primaries against incumbent presidents.”
HOUSE TO PRESSURE SENATE GOP ON TRUMP EMERGENCY
AP: “The fight about President Donald Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall is heading to the GOP-controlled Senate, putting Republicans in the uncomfortable spot of deciding whether to back his declaration of a national emergency. Enough Republicans are chewing over whether to support Trump’s plan to create suspense about the vote and how the issue will play in the 2020 elections. … The resolution is almost certain to pass the Democratic-controlled House, which is expected to vote Tuesday. If it also survives the Senate, Trump would be expected to veto it. Congress is not expected to muster the two-thirds majority to override a veto, which means the Republican president’s declaration could move forward. But no president wants a rebuke from his own party. The math: The Senate is controlled by a 53-47 Republican majority. So it would take four Republicans voting with every Democrat to pass the measure and send it to Trump. More than four have voiced significant discomfort with Trump’s move.”
Dozens of ex-GOP lawmakers and national security pros oppose emergency - NYT: “More than 25 former Republican lawmakers and nearly 60 former senior national security officials appealed to Congress on Monday to kill President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the Mexican border, countering Republican leaders’ effort to hold down defections Tuesday on a scheduled House vote to block the president. ‘It has always been a Republican fundamental principle that no matter how strong our policy preferences, no matter how deep our loyalties to presidents or party leaders, in order to remain a constitutional republic we must act within the borders of the Constitution,’ wrote the former members of Congress, including Senators John Danforth, Chuck Hagel, Olympia J. Snowe and Richard Lugar, who implored Republicans to protect Congress’s constitutionally mandated power of the purse.”
COLORADO GOV TO SIGN BILL HACKING ELECTORAL COLLEGE
The Hill: “Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) will sign a measure to award his state’s electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, moving a countrywide coalition one step closer to circumventing the Electoral College. In an interview Sunday, Polis called the Electoral College an ‘undemocratic relic’ of the nation’s past, one he wants to see relegated to the dustbin of history. ‘I’ve long supported electing the president by who gets the most votes,’ Polis told The Hill. ‘It’s a way to move towards direct election of the president.’ Colorado will become the 12th state to join the national popular vote interstate compact. Those 12 states and the District of Columbia, which has also passed a popular-vote bill, account for 172 electoral votes,  shy of the 270 votes a presidential candidate needs to win the White House.”
Trump heads to Vietnam for another round of NORK talks - Fox News
Former Democratic Gov. Pat McCrory won’t run N.C.’s 9th District special election - WCNC
Marist poll shows Americans shift toward pro-life stance - Knights of Columbus
George Will: ‘Progressives are emulating Trump – and reality is leaking from American life’ - WaPo
“The point with Trump is, he’s in on the joke.” – Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C in an interview with Mark Leibovich for the NYT, discussing the performative nature of the Trump presidency.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“OK, Chris, what is with the verb ‘woke’? You and Tucker Carlson use it often. Have the people in question been asleep?” – Margery Peterson, Salinas, Calif.
[Ed. note: The key, Ms. Peterson, is that in this sense it’s a noun rather than the traditional sense of “I woke the dog when I got up early for work,” where it is a verb. I think when “woke” the noun used un-ironically it is intended to mean something akin to the way Christians might use the term “born again.” The idea being that a person had been oblivious to certain questions of social justice but now have awoken to the injustices around them and will therefore think anew and act anew, i.e.: Don’t judge so-and-so because he used offensive terms in the past because he is now “woke” and acting in a socially conscious way. The term comes from the African American community, where it more specifically refers to the moment black Americans come to believe that that white racism is pervasive. The challenge thereafter is to “stay woke,” and, as rapper Meek Mill, put it in his 2018 song of the same name: “The odds against you and they double stacked, stay woke.” It’s about not allowing oneself to forget about racism. What makes the term so ripe for parody, though, is the way other social justice and left-wing groups and individuals have taken up the term. Like white-people dreadlocks and guys in pink pussy hats, white folks saying “woke” are easy targets for ridicule. When we use the term it’s not a taunt, though, but rather to refer to a certain category of liberal activists who are very public and deliberate in signaling their membership in the social justice community. Here’s how we used it in January: “So it seems for Harris and Booker, as well. The two of them were already jousting during the televised spectacle of the most recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings, trying to be the most woke and most brutal in their performances. Harris got the better of Booker then and, we expect, will be in good position to do so again.”]
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WHERE ARE WE GOING? OFF CAMPUS
Fox News: “A University of Wisconsin-Madison fraternity was suspended after the chapter forced new members to wear a ‘Dora the Explorer’ backpack, among other requirements, the school announced Friday. A student-led Committee on Student Organizations made the decision to suspend Alpha Sigma Phi through March 24 and place the fraternity on probation until Dec. 11 because the requirements were tantamount to hazing, according to a school press release. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, pledges were forced to wear the backpack, carry fruit around campus and do errands for older fraternity members. The fraternity can appeal the decision but will not be able to hold any activities.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“What is the border collie? A breed developed in the border country between England and Scotland for one thing only: its ability to herd sheep, though, if necessary, it can work cattle or hogs or even turkeys. (Our border collie, deprived of such gainful employment, likes to swim out to the middle of a pond and herd ducks.)” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on July 15, 1994.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.