Dems need more than 'meh' in Virginia race

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On the roster: Dems need more than ‘meh’ in Virginia race - ObamaCare deal calms insurers - Trump Twitter raid on Russia uranium deal - Perez consolidates power at DNC - Clown clowned

If Democrats can’t deliver a win in Virginia’s gubernatorial election 19 days hence, they should shut down and reopen as a haunted house.

“See the spine-tinglingly campaign finance reports!!! Hear the bloodcurdling voicemails from Debbie Wasserman Schultz!!! Smell the horror of a goat cheese and red-pepper hummus sandwich one of the interns left downstairs!!!”

Republicans have done well in recent cycles in gubernatorial races in Democrat-leaning states. Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey and Wisconsin are all presently governed by Republicans. So it wouldn’t be all together shocking for a state that had a strong Republican lead until about decade ago to replace Democrat Gov. Terry McAuliffe with a moderate Republican in the person of Ed Gillespie.

It would be a very Virginian kind of thing to do to replace the former chairman of the DNC with the former chairman of the RNC.

But, we are told that 2017 is intensely different politically since this is the dawn of the era of Donald Trump. When the previous new era was dawning eight years ago, Republicans’ victories in both Virginia and New Jersey were correctly taken as evidence of a coming GOP wave in the 2010 midterms.

Back then, the conclusion was that voters were unhappy about then-President Obama’s overreach on health insurance and environmental regulations. Much like the surprise defeat of the Democrat running to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, it would be a warning the members of the party were unwilling to heed.

Democrats are looking to build precisely the same narrative in reverse in Virginia this year. Obama himself campaigns for Democrat Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam today in a bid to transfer his still considerable popularity in the Old Dominion into some enthusiasm for the pedestrian campaign stylings of Northam.

The latest Fox News poll on the race shows, on average, what other surveys have indicated, that Northam is about 6 points ahead going into the home stretch. There’s enough undecided left to cover the gap, but Gillespie would need a very strong closing act to win.

If the race turns out the way polls suggest, let us suggest a different lesson altogether from Virginia 2017.

If the establishment Democrat beats the establishment Republican by about the same margin that Hillary Clinton defeated Trump in Virginia last year, the real answer may be that the perceived Trump effect on American politics is not all it is cracked up to be.

When Bob McDonnell thrashed Democrat Creigh Deeds one year after Obama became the first Democrat to win Virginia since Lyndon Johnson, it was a strong reflection of a rising Republican tide. But replicating the quadrennial result one year later? Meh.

If Northam does not outperform Clinton in what has essentially turned in to a battle of two rather beige-seeming candidates, there would be serious reason to start hedging on Democrat dreams of converting national discontentment toward Trump into concrete wins for House and Senate seats.

“They can discover the danger at a distance; and possessing all the organs of civil power, and the confidence of the people, they can at once adopt a regular plan of opposition, in which they can combine all the resources of the community.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28

History: “Hopelessly trapped at Yorktown, Virginia, British General Lord Cornwallis surrenders 8,000 British soldiers and seamen to a larger Franco-American force, effectively bringing an end to the American Revolution. Lord Cornwallis was one of the most capable British generals of the American Revolution. … After conducting a series of raids against towns and plantations in Virginia, Cornwallis settled in the tidewater town of Yorktown in August. The British immediately began fortifying the town and the adjacent promontory of Gloucester Point across the York River. … On October 19, General Cornwallis surrendered 7,087 officers and men, 900 seamen, 144 cannons, 15 galleys, a frigate, and 30 transport ships. Pleading illness, he did not attend the surrender ceremony, but his second-in-command, General Charles O’Hara, carried Cornwallis’ sword to the American and French commanders. … Although the war persisted on the high seas and in other theaters, the Patriot victory at Yorktown effectively ended fighting in the American colonies.”

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Trump net job-approval rating: -21.2 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.8 points

[President Trump’s score is determined by subtracting his average job disapproval rating in the five most recent, methodologically sound public polls from his average approval rating, calculated in the same fashion.]

[Note: Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt will be together for a special “I’ll Tell You What” taping tomorrow, Friday October 20. Stay tuned!]

NYT: “The new bipartisan health proposal is far from a cure-all for Obamacare’s problems, but if it passed it would send health insurers a message they have sought all year: that it’s safe to stay in the marketplaces. Insurers have already signed contracts and are making final arrangements to sell their products in time for next year’s enrollment period, which begins on Nov. 1. Though the proposal would guarantee payments to health insurers that President Trump canceled last week, and restore funding for Obamacare advertising that his Health and Human Services Department slashed, those changes would probably come too late to lower insurance prices or increase sign-ups significantly. But the deal proposed this week by Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, and Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, has reassured insurance executives. It is aimed at quieting nervous markets and making clear that the Obamacare market will exist beyond this year.”

The Judge’s Ruling: Obama’s triumph - Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains how Barack Obama was successful with ObamaCare: “Can the president spend federal dollars, whether from tax revenue or borrowing, without an express authorization from Congress, even if he is following a law that requires the expenditures? In a word, no. That’s because the drafters of the Constitution feared the very situation confronted by Congress and Obama in 2013 -- a law that is no longer popular, is no longer supported by Congress and costs money to enforce, with a president eager to enforce it and a Congress unwilling to authorize the payments.” More here.

Trump lobbies House to swallow Senate budget - Reuters: “President Donald Trump’s drive to overhaul the U.S. tax code headed for a pivotal moment on Thursday, with Senate Republicans poised to approve a budget measure that would help them pass tax legislation without Democratic support. The Senate and the House of Representatives must agree on a fiscal year 2018 budget resolution for Republicans to meet their goal of enacting a tax bill and sending it to Trump for his signature by the end of this year. The budget resolution contains a legislative tool called reconciliation, which would enable Republicans, who control the 100-seat Senate by a 52-48 margin, to move tax legislation through the Senate on a simple majority vote. Otherwise, tax reform would need 60 votes and would likely fail.”

Trump pushes for creation of a bipartisan tax reform group - Politico: “President Donald Trump suggested at a meeting with senators Wednesday that the Senate create a bipartisan working group for tax reform, surprising Republicans who’ve been planning to pass a party-line bill, senators said afterward. As the Senate worked to advance a budget that would set up a partisan tax reform bill on Wednesday, the president repeatedly indicated at a lunch with senators from both parties that he wanted a bipartisan process headed by Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), senators said. While everyone in the room nodded along with Trump’s hopes for bipartisanship, there was no agreement among senators to actually create such a group, which is viewed by some Republicans as redundant to the existing Finance Committee.”

GOP Senate members want McConnell to beef up schedule - Axios: “Nine Republican senators have signed a letter to Mitch McConnell calling on him to ‘turn the Senate on full time, 24/7, to advance the president’s agenda.’ The senators write that ‘perversion of Senate rules’ by Democrats, ‘designed to imperil’ Trump’s agenda, necessitates the step. This comes after McConnell told Senate Republicans that he planned to keep them working more Fridays and weekends. It shows the pent up frustration Republicans are feeling after a series of legislative setbacks. It’s an inconvenient reality, however, that several GOP senators, including Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst from Iowa, have been holding up EPA nominees to get their way on biofuels policy.”

Rep. Pat Tiberi of Ohio expected to resign NYT: “…Representative Pat Tiberi of Ohio, a senior lawmaker with close ties to his party’s leaders, is expected to resign and take up an executive post with a business group in his home state, according to three Republicans briefed on his plans. An abrupt departure by Mr. Tiberi, who is an influential member of the House Ways and Means Committee, would signal a deepening level of discontent
among mainstream Republicans in Congress. … Mr. Tiberi, 54, could announce his plan to leave Congress as soon as this week, Republican officials said, though it is unclear when he intends to vacate his seat. … A sudden resignation would prompt a special election for Mr. Tiberi’s seat, in a solidly Republican district outside of Columbus, the state capital.”

Fox News: “President Trump accused the ‘Fake Media’ on Thursday of ignoring new details about the 2010 approval of a controversial uranium deal with a Russian company, amid scrutiny of potential ‘conflicts of interest’ for Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration. … A day earlier, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, vowed at a public hearing to ‘get to the bottom of this issue.’ This was as The Hill reported that the FBI had evidence as early as 2009 that Russian operatives used bribes, kickbacks and other dirty tactics to expand Moscow’s atomic energy footprint in the U.S. -- yet the Obama administration approved the uranium deal benefiting Moscow anyway. Trump on Thursday also took another Twitter swipe at the firm behind the controversial anti-Trump dossier… As for the Russia company probe, The Hill reported overnight that Grassley is seeking permission to interview the FBI informant who helped agents uncover the corruption.”

McCain crosses aisle on political ad disclosure social media - WSJ: “A proposal to require social-media companies to disclose information about political advertising on their platforms has drawn the support of a key Senate Republican. Sen. John McCain (R, Ariz.), a longtime proponent of stricter political advertising disclosure rules and spending restrictions, has signed onto a bill being written by two Senate Democrats that was prompted by concerns about Russian activity on social media during the 2016 election, according to a statement from his office.”

House and Senate both briefed from Google - AP: “Google has briefed the House and Senate intelligence committees ahead of two Nov. 1 hearings that will examine Russian efforts to influence U.S. elections through social media. Officials from Google talked to investigators behind closed doors in recent weeks as part of the committees’ probes into Russian meddling in last year’s election, according to people familiar with the briefings. The people declined to be named because the meetings were private. Google spokeswoman Andrea Faville said Wednesday that Google representatives will participate in the public hearings Nov. 1.”

Free Beacon: “Several longtime officials at the Democratic National Committee have lost their positions ahead of their first meeting since Tom Perez took over as chairman. The DNC is facing particular criticism for the over-representation of Clinton backers on its Rule and Bylaws Committee, according to NBC News. That committee helps create the rules for the party’s presidential primary. Many members that were ousted were supporters of Rep. Keith Ellison’s (D., Mich.) bid to run the DNC. Ellison became vice-chair under Perez. The announcements exposed a rift between Ellison and Perez, who have publicly expressed their support for each other since the election of Perez as chairman. One DNC committee member pushed out, James Zogby of the Arab American Institute, expressed displeasure with his ouster. ‘I’m concerned about the optics, and I’m concerned about the impact. I want to heal the wound of 2016,’ Zogby said.”

Pence’s brother announces run for Congress - AP: “Greg Pence, one of Mike Pence’s older brothers, launched a campaign Wednesday for the eastern Indiana congressional seat that the vice president and former governor represented for 12 years. A campaign announcement video touts Greg Pence as a Republican who believes in ‘fiscal responsibility, the sanctity of life’ and ‘our Second Amendment rights.’ ‘I’m going to fight to help (President) Donald Trump help our district,’ Greg Pence says in the video. ‘That’s why I’m running for the United States Congress.’ … The district’s current congressman, Republican Luke Messer, is running for Senate.”

N.J. governor debate gets nasty - “The race to replace Chris Christie as New Jersey’s governor isn’t sleepy any more. That much was clear Wednesday night as Democratic nominee Phil Murphy and Republican nominee Kim Guadagno
spent much of their second and final televised debate shooting verbal arrows at each other. … But if the rivals’ first debate was contentious, this one was downright nasty. Murphy, who is leading by double digits in the polls, repeatedly accused Guadagno, the state’s lieutenant governor, of lying and at one point mocked her tax plan with a reference to a former New Jersey electronics store.”

Trump to nominate Joseph Simons for Federal Trade Commission chair - Politico

Trump to meet with Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello to discuss hurricane aid - Reuters

Trump admin divided on if president should visit demilitarized zone along NoKo border - WaPo

“The health of the Democratic spirit itself is at issue and the renewal of that spirit is the urgent task at hand.” – Former President George W. Bush speaking today in New York City at a forum focused on security sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute.

“I am troubled by the ‘logic’ of a comment like the one you mention by the National Review re: the purported Trump Dossier. This logic quite frequently is utilized by the left- trying to justify or establish a position via a negative. For example, ‘Trump must have something to hide in his tax returns otherwise he would disclose them;’ or, ‘Why was the suspect running away if he is not guilty?’ Just as you cannot prove a negative (‘No extraterrestrial has ever been to our planet’); it is logically weak to support a position by citing an action that has not been taken or occurred. Clearly, this ‘negative support reasoning’ (my words) is what the writer is saying- if there’s no truth in the Dossier, why doesn’t Trump and his Administration release its contents? Well, how about for starters, we try this-- if the creator of the Dossier’s goal was to besmirch the President, why would he or anyone want to give publicity to that which the fake Dossier contains? That is the equivalent of suing someone for defamation and having the slanderer retort- ‘Look, it must be true since the Plaintiff’s trying to hide it.’ You don’t need to be Sophocles to figure out how ridiculous that position sounds.” – Bohdan Shandor, Bonita Springs, Fla.

[Ed. note: I hear you, Mr. Shandor. But I would point out a couple of things: First, it is hardly the exclusive province of either party or any ideological group to demand that their rivals try to prove negatives. Second, the most salacious claims of the dossier have already been, ahem, leaked. Providing House and Senate investigators the chance to either confirm or debunk the content would not be a politically smart move, since as you suggest it would recirculate information the president says is untrue. But how then can the White House simultaneously complain about the dossier? Either pipe down about it or hand it over.] 

“Chris, your invocation of the term ’solipsism’ has brought you into my sole existent world.  I may install you as president, replacing my previous frivolous invention.” – Jerry Hansen, El Cajon, Calif.

[Ed. note: Hmmmmmm… At the risk of being solipsistic, I quote one of the great sons of the Buckeye state, “I never have been and never will be a candidate for president; that if nominated by either party, I should peremptorily decline; and even if unanimously elected I should decline to serve.”]

“With the Fox News poll showing a dead heat in the Alabama Senate race, how many ‘establishment’ Republicans do you think are secretly wishing that the Democrat wins in November? It would only be for three years and it would be an incredibly strong rebuke to Steve Bannon. While I think Moore will likely win in the end, a loss would certainly make it harder for the protest candidates. The primary commercials for Jeff Flake and other incumbents seem like they would almost write themselves…” – Steve Arthur, Colorado Springs, Colo.

[Ed. note: If I were betting on the Alabama Senate race, I’d take a look at that 11 percent undecided in an overwhelmingly Republican state and assume that when voters start to focus, the preponderance will break for the GOP. But, yes, I take your point. Even a close race in Alabama would send cautionary signs to Republicans in other more competitive states.] 

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Orlando Sentinel: “An 11-year-old told Volusia County deputies he hit a clown with a selfie-stick multiple times after the blue-haired character jumped out from bushes on Friday the 13th. The victim was biking back from Pine Ridge High School shortly before 6:30 p.m. when a clown with a rainbow painted face, red foam nose, a green long-sleeved shirt and black boots jumped out from behind a light pole and some bushes. The boy said the clown never made physical contact, but he did reach out and attempt to grab him. He was afraid the clown would attack him, so he proceeded to defend himself with his metal selfie stick. According to the victim’s account, the clown chased him for a while on Howland Boulevard, until the clown tripped and fell. … Volusia County Sheriff’s Office posted a warning on Facebook to all ‘evil clowns and anyone considering creepy clown activity’ should not expect to be saved.”

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.