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POLITICO Playbook: New poll: Democrats have a ‘narrow edge’ in battleground districts

Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to her colleagues with the headline: “DON’T AGONIZE, ORGANIZE: OWN OCTOBER.” | Alex Brandon/AP Photo


BULLETIN — AP: “2 American researchers win Nobel economics prize,” by David Keyton and Jim Heintz in Stockholm: “Two American researchers have been awarded the Nobel Prize for economics for studying the interplay of climate change and technological innovation with economics.

“William Nordhaus of Yale University and Paul Romer of New York University were announced winners of the 9-million-kronor ($ 1.01 million) prize on Monday by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.” AP

JUST POSTED … WAPO’S SCOTT CLEMENT and DAN BALZ: “Survey of battleground House districts shows Democrats with narrow edge”: “Likely voters who live in 69 battleground House districts across the country narrowly prefer Democratic candidates, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School survey, a potentially worrying sign for Republicans given that the overwhelming percentage of these districts are currently in GOP hands.

“With just a month to the midterm elections and with early voting set to begin in many states, the new poll highlights the challenge for Republicans as they seek to maintain their House majority at a time when President Trump’s approval rating remains below 50 percent despite sustained economic growth, low unemployment and a rising stock market.

“The survey of 2,672 likely voters by The Post and the Schar School at George Mason University shows that likely voters in these districts favor Democrats by a slight margin: 50 percent prefer the Democratic nominee and 46 percent prefer the Republican. By way of comparison, in 2016 these same districts favored Republican candidates over Democratic ones by 15 percentage points, 56 percent to 41 percent.” WaPoThe poll

— STAT THAT MIGHT SCARE REPUBLICANS: “Women are driving Democratic support in the battleground districts, favoring the party’s candidates by 54 percent to 40 percent. Men in these districts favor Republicans by 51 percent to 46 percent. That gender difference continues a pattern that has been seen throughout the year in other polls and in special elections.”


— NARAL is going to spend $ 1 million on ads in seven districts. The spot will run in Iowa against Rep. David Young, in Illinois against Rep. Peter Roskam, in Kansas against Rep. Kevin Yoder, in New York against Rep. Claudia Tenney, in Texas against Rep. John Culberson, in Minnesota against Rep. Jason Lewis and in Virginia against Rep. Dave Brat. The 30-second ad

— JASON CROW, who is running against Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman in the Denver suburbs, is spending $ 500,000 on a new ad highlighting his service as an Army ranger. The 30-second spot

— HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN’S EQUALITY VOTES PAC is launching a $ 2 million campaign focused on voter turnout. The digital, direct mail, text and phone voter contact program is focused on Nevada, Arizona and Wisconsin. The group is also running digital ads in Texas, California, Minnesota and Kansas.

Good Monday morning and Happy Columbus Day. 29 DAYS until Election Day.

HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI sent a letter to her colleagues with the headline: “DON’T AGONIZE, ORGANIZE: OWN OCTOBER.” “The GOP’s decision to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has wounded the very soul of justice in our country. …

“We must not agonize, we must organize. People must vote. What is at stake in this election is nothing less than the health and financial security of families across America.The new conservative majority on the Supreme Court threatens a rollback of protections for people with pre-existing conditions, more leverage for corporate special interests over working families, and little hope to reform Citizens United. That is why we must fight even harder to win so that we can advance our For The People agenda.” The full letter

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— JONATHAN MARTIN in RUTLAND, NORTH DAKOTA: “Court Battle Shifts the Political Terrain for Senators in the Heartland”: “When Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, and her Republican opponent, Representative Kevin Cramer, put Sunday’s annual Uffda Day celebration on their schedules this year, they most likely thought they would get an earful from voters about tariffs here in the heart of North Dakota’s soybean belt.

“But the Scandinavian food festival in this town of 155, a fixture on North Dakota’s political calendar, instead served as a snapshot of the nation’s changing electoral landscape, illustrating why the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, was so eager to ram through Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination ahead of the midterm election.

“Voter after voter brought up the polarizing Supreme Court battle to the two candidates as they made their way around the lefse and other Norwegian delicacies; the comments reflected the country’s divide, with Republicans thanking Mr. Cramer for standing by Justice Kavanaugh and Democrats offering hugs to Ms. Heitkamp to show their appreciation for her opposition. …

“‘The smart political vote would have been to vote for Kavanaugh,’ Ms. Heitkamp said after marching in a six-block parade here, acknowledging that her opposition would anger some of the state’s voters and that she’d rather focus on trade and tariffs, ‘not a Supreme Court nomination.’ But, Ms. Heitkamp said, ‘that’s the way it just goes.’” NYT

— MORE JMART: “#MeToo Is a ‘Movement Toward Victimization,’ G.O.P. Senate Candidate Says”: “Asked for an example of what he meant, [Rep. Cramer] ripped into the #MeToo movement.

“‘That you’re just supposed to believe somebody because they said it happened,’ Mr. Cramer said, alluding to Christine Blasey Ford — who has accused Justice Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers — and, more broadly, women who have come forward to claim that they were sexually abused or assaulted.

“Invoking his wife, daughters, mother and mother-in-law, Mr. Cramer said: ‘They cannot understand this movement toward victimization. They are pioneers of the prairie. These are tough people whose grandparents were tough and great-grandparents were tough.’” NYT

— “Manchin faces firestorm at home following Kavanaugh vote,” by AP’s Steve Peoples in Charleston, W.Va.: “A day after Manchin broke with his party on what may be the most consequential vote of the Trump era, the vulnerable Democrat is facing a political firestorm back home.

“While Republicans — including one of the president’s sons — are on the attack, the most passionate criticism is coming from Manchin’s very own Democratic base, a small but significant portion of the electorate he needs to turn out in force to win re-election next month. A Manchin loss would put his party’s hopes of regaining control of the Senate virtually out of reach.” AP

NEXT UP – “Kavanaugh’s first vote could be in Trump executive power fight,” by Josh Gerstein: “Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s first vote as a member of the Supreme Court could come as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday on a Trump administration request testing how much power courts should wield over top executive branch officials.

“The administration has already made one unsuccessful run at the high court on the issue: It asked Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week to step in to block depositions of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Justice Department civil rights chief John Gore in lawsuits challenging Ross’ decision to put a question about citizenship on the 2020 U.S. Census. Ginsburg rebuffed the stay request, but Justice Department attorneys have indicated they plan to return to the Supreme Court with another emergency stay application within days unless they get full relief from lower courts, which seems unlikely.

“Justice Department lawyers argue the depositions of Ross and Gore ordered by a federal judge in New York City constitute an unwarranted intrusion into executive authority and could prove distracting to senior officials with important duties. It’s the kind of argument that could appeal to Kavanaugh, who has advocated broad interpretations of executive power. However, deferring to the Trump administration within days of joining the court could appear to confirm many of Kavanaugh’s critics’ claims that he’s likely to be a rubber stamp for Trump and his agenda.” POLITICO

WAPO’S ROBERT BARNES: “Kavanaugh makes good on his pledge at hearing to hire women as law clerks”

POMPEO IN BEIJING … WAPO’S ANNE FIFIELD in BEIJING: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got an earful from senior Chinese officials during a five-hour visit to Beijing Monday, effectively becoming the whipping boy in the increasingly acrimonious relationship between the two governments.

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“Pompeo is the most senior official to meet with his Chinese counterparts since President Trump accused Beijing of meddling in November’s midterm elections and Vice President Pence gave a vitriolic speech charging Beijing with seeking to undermine U.S. interests across the globe.

“He felt the full force of the dispute during meetings with Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi, a Politburo member who has long dealt with bilateral relations. In the first round, Wang told Pompeo that the Trump administration’s recent actions against China have ‘directly impacted our mutual trust and cast a shadow over our bilateral relations.’” WaPo

2020 WATCH – ANNIE LINSKEY and NIHAL KRISHAN on Boston Globe A1, “Elizabeth Warren is spending heavily on national Facebook ads in preparation for a possible presidential bid”: “Warren has emerged this year as the third-highest spender on digital ads — behind only President Trump and Beto O’Rourke, a Texas Democrat who is running in the country’s highest-profile Senate race. … In the last two weeks alone, Warren has run 401 separate digital ads on Facebook, seen by as many as 10 million people. These aren’t all geared for Massachusetts: Her ads are getting four times as many eyeballs in other states.

DAVID SIDERS: “Debates emerge as 2020 Democratic primary flash point”: “The first Democratic presidential debate is still months away, but the sprawling field of prospective contenders is beginning to grasp a crushing reality: Any candidate who fails to make the cut for the first debate stage is likely to see their candidacy implode.

“The kickoff debate could come as early as spring or summer 2019 — and the prospect of it is already accelerating the timetable for Democrats to raise money, hire staff and raise their profiles beyond an asterisk in national and early-state polls.” POLITICO

“Especially noteworthy is her use of Facebook advertising in Oklahoma, the ruby-red state where she grew up. … The majority of those seeing Warren’s digital ads on Facebook are being asked for their e-mail addresses and not money, according to the analysis. That means Warren is building a national list, not a war chest. At least so far.” Globe

TAYLOR SWIFT SPEAKS, via the Tennessean’s Cindy Watts and Natalie Allison: “Taylor Swift can’t stay silent about politics any longer. The 28-year-old superstar took to Instagram on Sunday night to weigh in on Tennessee’s closely contested U.S. Senate race, endorsing Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen as she offered a harsh rebuke of U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican nominee. Her endorsement of Bredesen marks the first time Swift has spoken publicly about politics.

“‘As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn,’ Swift wrote, elaborating that ‘her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me.’ Swift specifically noted Blackburn’s vote against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, versions of which Blackburn has opposed in recent years. She also condemned Blackburn’s stance against marriage equality.” TennesseanHer post on Instagram

TRUMP’S MONDAY — THE PRESIDENT will leave the White House at 10:20 a.m. for Andrews, where he will take off for Orlando. At 1:35 p.m., he’ll speak at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Convention. He arrives back at Andrews at 4:40 p.m., and back to the White House at 5 p.m. At 7 p.m., he’ll hold a ceremony for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

— ROD ROSENSTEIN is flying with Trump to Florida, according to the NYT.

— VP MIKE PENCE is flying to Dallas for a pair of campaign events: one for Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), and another for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). He will then fly to Springfield, Mo., for a Josh Hawley event. At 5:55 p.m., Pence will fly from Springfield to D.C.


 Sen. Lindsey Graham

PHOTO DU JOUR: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) boards a motorcade at the White House on Sunday before a planned golf trip at Trump National Golf Club with President Trump. | Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

FOR YOUR RADAR — “The world has just over a decade to get climate change under control, U.N. scientists say,” by WaPo’s Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis: “The world stands on the brink of failure when it comes to holding global warming to moderate levels, and nations will need to take ‘unprecedented’ actions to cut their carbon emissions over the next decade, according to a landmark report by the top scientific body studying climate change. … To avoid racing past warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) over preindustrial levels would require a ‘rapid and far-reaching’ transformation of human civilization at a magnitude that has never happened before, the group found.” WaPo

BUSINESS BURST — “Elliott Management Goes on Charm Offensive: Hedge fund known for acrimonious activism campaigns shifts focus toward building long-term relationships,” by WSJ’s Cara Lombardo: WSJ

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MEDIAWATCH — “Disappearance and alleged killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi could complicate U.S.-Saudi relations,” by WaPo’s Karen DeYoung: “The disappearance and alleged killing last week of dissident Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi while he was visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul is only the latest challenge to a U.S.-Saudi relationship that both governments have diligently cultivated. The Trump administration has said little beyond expressing public concern over Khashoggi’s fate, and the kingdom has sharply denied any knowledge of his whereabouts.

“In private, officials from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on down have been frustrated with the lack of a substantive response to direct high-level queries, according to administration officials. Confirmation that Khashoggi was killed — as some senior Turkish officials have charged — or even his disappearance at Saudi hands is likely to spark a new round of congressional pressure to reassess the relationship with Riyadh.” WaPo

— DAVID IGNATIUS, “Jamal Khashoggi chose to tell the truth. It’s part of the reason he’s beloved”: “Khashoggi was passionate for reform of an Arab Muslim world that he considered corrupt and dishonest. He grew up in Medina, the son of a Palestinian immigrant who owned a small textile shop. He went to the United States for college, attending Indiana State University. He also embraced Islam, joining the Muslim Brotherhood and, in the late 1970s, befriending the young Osama bin Laden, whom he tried to turn against violence. Khashoggi failed to dissuade bin Laden. …

“One of my favorite Khashoggi columns was a 2002 evocation of his friend Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal correspondent who just had been murdered by al-Qaeda. They had met 10 years before, while covering the first Gulf War. Khashoggi wrote of this American Jewish reporter: “Pearl understood Arab and Muslim feelings … He was searching for the truth in order to convey it to his readers.’” WaPo

MSNBC’S KATY TUR is kicking off her “Battleground College Tour” where she will be hosting “MSNBC Live” this week at UCLA, University of Nevada – Reno, Purdue, Clark Atlanta University and University of South Florida.

BONUS GREAT HOLIDAY WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman, filing from Memphis:

— “Was There a Connection Between a Russian Bank and the Trump Campaign?” by the New Yorker’s Dexter Filkins: “A team of computer scientists sifted through records of unusual Web traffic in search of answers.” New Yorker

— “If Dems Lose Again, Obama’s Legacy Is Gone Forever,” by Jonathan Alter in the Daily Beast: “Even as Barack Obama’s stellar reputation as a president is secure, his tangible legacy is at grave risk in the coming election.” Daily Beast

— “On Washington’s McNeil Island, the only residents are 214 dangerous sex offenders,” by the Guardian’s Emily Gillespie on McNeil Island, Wash.: “Civil commitment centers, which exist in less than half of U.S. states, are meant as a community safeguard, but they’re riddled with controversies.” The Guardian

— “The Snakehead,” by Patrick Radden Keefe in the New Yorker in April 2006 – per Longform.org’s description: “Working from a tiny shop in Chinatown, Sister Ping brought in thousands of Chinese immigrants by boat, bringing in over $ 40 million. Then one of her ships ran aground.” New Yorker

— “Out of the Woods,” by Ruby McConnell in Oregon Humanities: “A chance encounter, a lost boy, and endangered forest.” Oregon Humanities

— “The Body and the Library,” by Shelley Puhak in CrimeReads – per Longreads.com’s description: “The body of a murdered woman was found outside the library where the author used to read as a young girl. The library, once a safe space to learn, dream, and indulge her imagination, became ominous and dangerous, a place where readers could get choked with the bag that held their books, a place for the brain and body.” CrimeReads


SPOTTED: Sonia Sotomayor sitting in coach on a 1 p.m. Boston to DCA American Airlines flight yesterday … Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner and their 3 children having brunch at Martin’s tavern on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown … Tommy Quinn fundraising for Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) with hosts Willie Brown, Julie Chase, Bob Klein and Will Chang aboard Rusty Areias’ yacht Miss 102 at the Blue Angels air show as part of Fleet Week in San Francisco. Pic of Quinn and Brown



MORE WEEKEND WEDDINGS — #LIVEFOYORDIE: Taylor Foy and Kelsey Keegan were married Saturday at St. Mary’s Church in Rochester, N.H. Pool report: “The date was an auspicious one for the couple: Taylor is communications director for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Keegan is a legislative assistant for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). In between the ceremony and the reception at Rivermill at Dover Landing, NH, the Senate confirmed Kavanaugh. When the attendees got to the cocktail hour, Taylor excitedly asked how the vote turned out. Kelsey, who previously worked for Senator Ayotte, wore a ‘Confirm Kavanaugh’ button under her dress.

SPOTTED: former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Jon Blum and Mandi Critchfield, Natalie Krings and Andy Rothe, Jennifer Heins, Adam and Andrea Hechavarria, Nancy Martinez, Brianna Puccini, Jess Clowser, Erica Andeweg, Dan Auger, Kelsey Patten and Taylor Reidy.

— Jennifer Lackey, managing director in the office of congressional and public affairs at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, married Brendan Belair, chief of staff to Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.). Pool report: “The wedding was officiated by Rep. Collins in Washington, D.C. and Toby Lackey Belair, their golden retriever puppy, served as a the ring bearer. The couple plans to honeymoon in France.” Pic

— Jonathan Clark, creative director of marketing and comms at Politico, married Andrea Alejandra Contreras, assistant office manager of operations at District of Columbia International School, in a ceremony at the D.C. War Memorial. “Mariachis kicked off the wedding with a traditional song El Rey and was officiated by our dear friend, actress and musician Lulu Fall. … We met at Showtime Bar and Lounge on Rhode Island Avenue four years ago.” PicAnother pic

— CAITLIN PATENAUDE and JONATHAN VANNOY got married in Nashville over the weekend.

ENGAGED — Noah Gray, CNN White House producer, proposed to Kristen Holmes, a CNN Newsource correspondent. Gray proposed at the Lincoln Memorial. “He then whisked Kristen into a helicopter for a flyover of their apartment building at dusk with a roof-top message in lights: ‘I Love You Kristen.’ … The couple spent the weekend scouting wedding venues in Nantucket.” Pic Video on Instagram

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Blain Rethmeier, managing director at Ditto PR and a Bush WH alum, is 42. What he’s been reading recently: “‘Princesses Save the World’ by Savannah Guthrie and Allison Oppenheim. I’m a huge Savannah fan. We first met when I was working at the Senate Judiciary Committee and she was with Court TV. We bonded during the confirmation hearings for Chief Justice John Roberts. Now I’m using her book to bond with my daughter and share her pearls of wisdom.” Playbook Plus Q&A

BIRTHDAYS: Madeleine Westerhout, special assistant and executive assistant to the President. She accompanied the First Lady last week on her trip to Africa — Instapics … Adrienne Watson of the DNC (hat tip: Adrienne Elrod) … Steve Coll, dean of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and a New Yorker staff writer, is 6-0 … former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is 72 … the Rev. Jesse Jackson is 77 … Bill Schneider … Mackenzie Weinger … Jennifer Allen, SVP at LCV … Kim Gamel of Stars and Stripes … Matthew J. Shuman … Dan Dunham … Politico’s Terry Golway … former HHS Secretary Tom Price is 64 … Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) is 52 … Kristen Osborne of MSNBC PR … Dan Gallo of Fox News … Joseph Galitzin … Julia Taylor … Adam Weiss … Molly Erman (h/t Ashley Bahnken) … Nicole Schlinger … Anna Levin … Joe Tvrdy …

… Ivanka Farrell of Bully Pulpit Interactive … Shripal Shah, VP at American Bridge (h/t Andrew Bates) … Tom Sheridan (h/t Erik Smith) … Edelman’s Hilary Teeter and Chase Noyes … Lillie Belle Viebranz of Palantir (h/t brother Angus) … Abdul Dosunmu … Ingrid Jones … Micah Morris … Caroline Nonna Holland … David Burstein, CEO and founder of Run For America … Riki Parikh … Dennis Alpert is 53 … NPR’s Shankar Vedantam … Sophia Yan … Kirk Monroe, senior adviser at Rasky Partners … Tamara Lipper Smith … Bridger McGaw … Marcella Caldwell-Gadson … Nicholas Piatek … Joe Torsella … Kay Lund … Kirk Schwarzbach … Judy Sulentic (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)

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