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POLITICO Playbook: T-minus 11 days and counting

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Amy McGrath

Democratic congressional candidate Amy McGrath speaks during a campaign event in Owingsville, Ky., on Friday, Oct. 12. | Bryan Woolston/AP Photo



— AMY MCGRATH is putting up her closing ad — “Investment,” which was cut by MARK PUTNAM. The ad features McGrath, a former fighter pilot, looking directly into the camera with a plane in the background. ”It probably won’t surprise you that I don’t always agree with the president, but he was elected under our Constitution that I risked my life to protect,” McGrath says. “I’ll never obstruct government or put party before country. I learned at the Naval Academy that leaders must demonstrate honor and integrity, and I never forget that the American people paid for my education in exchange for my service.” The ad

DEMOCRATS believe McGrath, who is running against Kentucky Rep. Andy Barr (R), has shown a path for how to run in a district that favors Republicans. And this ad, they say, exemplifies how Democrats in red districts should deal with President Donald Trump.

— HOUSE MAJORITY PAC — the House Dem super PAC — disclosed its $ 20 million from MIKE BLOOMBERG, but also got $ 1 million from HAIM SABAN and $ 600,000 from STEVEN SPIELBERG.

— SENATE LEADERSHIP FUND, the GOP super PAC, got $ 3 million from Blackstone Group’s STEPHEN SCHWARZMAN, $ 2 million from CHARLES SCHWAB and $ 1 million from PAUL SINGER.

— CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP FUND got $ 6 million from CHARLES SCHWAB and his wife, $ 1.5 million from STEPHEN SCHWARZMAN.

— GEORGE SCOTT, the Democrat running against Rep. Scott Perry, the Freedom Caucus stalwart from Pennsylvania, raised $ 370,194 between Oct. 1 and Oct. 17. That’s more than Perry raised in the entire third quarter. (Perry raised $ 204,463 over the same 17-day period in October.)

— REP. BETO O’ROURKE (D-TEXAS) raised $ 8.4 million between Oct. 1 and Oct. 17. He has $ 10.3 million on hand.

— MAGGIE SEVERNS: “Heitkamp raked in more than $ 12 million in early October”

Good Friday morning. CLF has turned the immigrant caravan into a campaign issue in Minnesota’s First District, the open GOP-leaning seat currently held by Tim Walz, the Democratic nominee for governor. The 30-second spot

THE LATEST ON THE MAIL BOMBS … “Investigators search for person who sent mail bombs, motive,” by AP’s Michael Balsamo, Colleen Long and Zeke Miller: “Investigators have been searching coast-to-coast for the culprit and motives behind the bizarre mail-bomb plot aimed at critics of the president, analyzing the innards of the crude devices to reveal whether they were intended to detonate or simply sow fear two weeks before Election Day. …

“Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the devices, containing timers and batteries, were not rigged like booby-trapped package bombs that would explode upon opening. But they were still uncertain whether the devices were poorly designed or never intended to cause physical harm. A search of a postal database suggested at least some may have been mailed from Florida, one official said. Investigators are homing in on a postal facility in Opa-locka, Florida, where they believe some of the packages originated, another official said.” AP

— @realDonaldTrump at 3:14 a.m.: “Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, ‘it’s just not Presidential!’”

POLITICO SCOOP — DAN DIAMOND: HHS ADMITS MISCOUNT LEFT SOME MIGRANT CHILDREN STRANDED IN CUSTODY — The administration didn’t include at least 14 migrant children in its count of minors whom officials separated from their parents at the border, which has left the overlooked children in HHS custody for months.

— What went wrong: The haphazard process undertaken by HHS and Homeland Security to separate families was misaligned and produced different total counts of children. Scott Lloyd, the controversial director of HHS’ refugee office, made the decision to go with the lower number, an official with knowledge of the process told Dan.

— The revelation was alluded to in a court filing late Thursday night, where administration officials acknowledged that their previous count of 2,654 separated children was inaccurate and raised it to 2,668. Read more

— MEANWHILE: “White House weighs executive actions to block migrant caravan at the border,” by Ted Hesson, Nancy Cook and Andrew Restuccia: “The White House is weighing an executive action and regulatory change to block a caravan of Central American migrants from entering the United States, according to a DHS official, an administration official and three people familiar with the move.

“Under the plan, the Trump administration would publish fast-track regulation that would restrict certain migrants’ ability to seek asylum. The regulation would be paired with a related proclamation from President Donald Trump.” POLITICO

— DHS SECRETARY KIRSTJEN NIELSEN: “We do not have any intention right now to shoot at people, but they will be apprehended, however,” Nielsen told Fox News host Martha MacCallum along the border in Arizona. “But I also take my officer and agent, their own [personal] safety, extraordinarily seriously. They do have the ability of force to defend themselves.” POLITICO

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TRUMP ON THE TRAIL … ALEX ISENSTADT — “Trump fears Florida wipeout”: “The White House is planning a political rescue mission in Florida, fearing a wipeout in a key swing state next month that could damage President Donald Trump’s reelection hopes.

“Trump is expected to visit the state at least twice, according to two people familiar with the plans. Visits from several Cabinet members are likely, as well. Presidential text messages are being sent to Floridians who still haven’t cast their absentee ballots. And discussions are underway about blanketing the state with robocalls from Trump.

“On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway were in the state in support of gubernatorial hopeful Ron DeSantis and Senate candidate Rick Scott, both of whom are close to Trump.

“Later in the day, the president raised money for Republican House candidate Ross Spano, who’s facing an unexpectedly tough challenge in what’s been a reliably red district. Behind the scenes, Trump aides have been in contact with top Florida Republicans on a near daily basis, and people close to the president concede that they are worried.” POLITICO

— BEN SCHRECKINGER: “Soaring confidence — and few liberal protesters — inside Trump’s midterm campaign rallies”

LATEST ON KHASHOGGI — “CIA director briefs president on audio purportedly capturing the killing of Jamal Khashoggi,” by WaPo’s Karen DeYoung, Tamer El-Ghobashy and Kareem Fahim: “CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed President Trump on Thursday about her trip this week to Turkey, where she listened to audio purportedly capturing the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, as Saudi Arabia appeared to acknowledge that its agents had murdered the dissident Saudi journalist in a ‘premeditated’ operation.” WaPo

FOR YOUR RADAR — TOP-ED — MIKHAIL GORBACHEV in the NYT, “A New Nuclear Arms Race Has Begun”: “President Trump says he plans to withdraw from a nonproliferation treaty that I signed with Ronald Reagan. It’s just the latest victim in the militarization of world affairs.” NYT

WHAT THE PENTAGON IS READING — “Bolton’s Whisper Campaign to Oust Mattis,” by Foreign Policy’s Lara Seligman: “White House National Security Advisor John Bolton and his deputy are trying to squeeze out U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis by spreading rumors about his imminent departure, according to two well-placed sources.

“Bolton and Mira Ricardel, the deputy national security advisor, who has repeatedly clashed with Mattis over Defense Department personnel appointments, believe the defense secretary is ‘not ideologically aligned’ with President Donald Trump’s administration, according to one of the sources, a former senior defense official.

“The two are trying ‘to build the sense that he is done for,’ the former official said. One Trump administration official noted, ‘Mira and Bolton are the only ones who benefit if Secretary Mattis leaves.’” FP

2018 WATCH — ANDREW RESTUCCIA and GABBY ORR: “GOP sees new bomb scare victim: Trump: Many Trump allies say a terroristic attack on Democratic leaders has become a media conspiracy to undermine the president ahead of the November midterms”: “American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp, a Trump ally, called the string of attempted bombings a ‘wake-up call for everybody,’ but also encouraged Trump to keep exposing the media’s ‘irresponsible’ coverage. … Asked if Trump might omit from future rallies his claim that journalists are ‘the enemy of the people,’ Schlapp responded: ‘I hope not.’” POLITICO

— NYT’s MATT FLEGENHEIMER, JONATHAN MARTIN and ASTEAD HERNDON: “Fears of voter suppression were again ignited in Georgia on Thursday after state Democratic officials said that more than 4,700 vote-by-mail applications were missing in DeKalb County, one of Georgia’s most populous and liberal-leaning regions.

“County officials acknowledged the missing applications in a phone conversation this week with Democratic voter protection officials, and pledged to call the thousands of voters to inform them of the error, according to multiple people familiar with the conversation.” NYT

— NEW VIDEO: In the third installment of POLITICO’s video series “The Midterm View,” Eugene Daniels and Mary Newman dig into how red-state Democrats are walking the tightrope to cater to both the liberal base and moderate Republicans. The video

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THE INVESTIGATIONS — “U.S. Says ‘Others’ Are Under Scrutiny in Cohen Grand Jury Probe,” by Bloomberg’s Bob Van Voris, Greg Farrell and David Voreacos

TRUMP’S FRIDAY — The president will speak at the “2018 Young Black Leadership Summit” at 11:45 a.m. in the East Room. He is having lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 1 p.m. Trump will leave the White House en route to Charlotte, N.C., at 4:35 p.m. He is hosting a 7 p.m. political rally at Bojangles’ Coliseum before returning to Washington.

COMING ATTRACTIONS — VP MIKE PENCE will join us Tuesday — OCT. 30, one week before Election Day — for a live Playbook Interview about policy, politics and the midterm elections. Sign up for the waitlist

— JOIN ANNA and JAKE for a special Playbook Elections event in Philadelphia Monday with REP. BRENDAN BOYLE (D-PA.) and REP. RYAN COSTELLO (R-PA.) to discuss the 2018 midterm cycle and issues shaping the races. Doors open 8 a.m. RSVP

THE COUNTDOWN HAS BEGUN … Compete against the nation’s top political minds in the POLITICO PLAYBOOK ELECTION CHALLENGE, by correctly picking the winning candidates in some of the most competitive House, Senate and gubernatorial races in the country. Sign up today!


Police K-9 unit

PHOTO DU JOUR: A police officer and dog are shown outside a postal facility on Thursday in Opa-locka, Fla., as investigators searched for the culprit behind mail bombs around the country. | Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo


  • “Face the Nation”: Speaker Paul Ryan (pre-taped on the campaign trail) … Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) … Anthony Salvanto. Political panel: Jeff Goldberg, Jamelle Bouie, Lanhee Chen and Susan Page

  • “Fox News Sunday”: Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) … Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.). Panel: Jason Chaffetz, Jason Riley, Liz Marlantes and Mo Elleithee

  • “State of the Union”: Panel: Jen Psaki, Nina Turner, Scott Jennings and Amanda Carpenter

  • “Inside Politics”: Eliana Johnson, Julie Pace, Manu Raju and Jenna Johnson

  • “This Week”: Matthew Dowd, Peter Baker, Mary Jordan and Reihan Salam

  • “Meet the Press”: Panel: Erick Erickson, Mike Murphy, Amy Walter and Kristen Welker

JUST POSTED — “Tom Barrack Got Trump Right, Then Things Went Wrong: The financier’s Colony Capital is struggling. His royal allies in the Middle East are boxed out. And his old friend Paul Manafort is behind bars,” by Caleb Melby in Bloomberg Businessweek: “Helping a fading reality-TV star with no political experience capture the White House might have led to a role in the administration or made Colony a magnet for money from around the world. But mixing business and politics hasn’t worked out for Colony’s 71-year-old executive chairman.

“Instead, he damaged relations with the Qatari royal family, his best business partner in the Middle East, by helping orchestrate a relationship between the White House and the Saudis. Meanwhile, Colony hemorrhaged talent, raised only half the debt fund’s target, and entered into an ill-fated merger. Its shares have fallen about 60 percent since Trump’s inauguration, even as U.S. market indexes have risen more than 20 percent.” Bloomberg

— ANOTHER INTERESTING NUGGET: “According to people familiar with the matter, [Barrack] allowed Colony’s New York office, kitty-corner from Trump Tower, to be used for sensitive transition-team meetings.”

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PULLING A CHENEY — “Trump’s DEA Chief Vetted Candidates and Then Took the Job Himself, Riling Police Groups,” by WSJ’s Mike Bender: “As one of President Trump’s top compliance and ethics attorneys in the White House, Uttam Dhillon had urged several candidates for Drug Enforcement Administration chief to withdraw from consideration, citing concerns about their background checks. Then, he accepted the job himself. Mr. Dhillon’s rise to the top of the world’s largest drug-fighting agency—after being closely involved in the selection process—has riled police groups that had pushed the White House to choose a DEA administrator with a law-enforcement background.

“‘We certainly would not support him being confirmed,’ Jonathan Thompson, chief executive of the National Sheriffs’ Association, said about Mr. Dhillon. ‘It baffles me that he could sway the vetting process and help decide who wasn’t qualified, while he floated to the top, because we don’t see a single qualification that makes him eligible to lead the agency.’” WSJ

SAD! — “Trump used charity money to buy his own portrait because no one else would: lawyers,” by N.Y. Post’s Julia Marsh: “Donald Trump had no choice but to blow $ 10,000 in charity money on a giant painting of himself — because no one else wanted it, his lawyers claimed in court Thursday. Trump picked up the infamous painting — now at the center of a lawsuit brought by the state attorney general who alleges suspect spending by the charity — during a 2014 auction benefiting The Unicorn Foundation at his Mar-a-Lago country club in Florida.” NYP

ACROSS THE POND — “Sir Philip Green named in Parliament as businessman at centre of Britain’s #MeToo scandal” — The Telegraph: “The Topshop owner was identified by Lord Hain, the former Leader of the House of Commons, after two days of speculation over the name of the man behind the injunction. … Hain … told a hushed House of Lords: ‘My Lords, having been contacted by someone intimately involved in the case of a powerful businessman using non-disclosure agreements and substantial payments to conceal the truth about serious and repeated sexual harassment, racist abuse and bullying, which is compulsively continuing.’” The Telegraph

VALLEY TALK — “How Google Protected Andy Rubin, the ‘Father of Android,’” by NYT’s Daisuke Wakabayashi and Katie Benner: “Google gave Andy Rubin, the creator of Android mobile software, a hero’s farewell when he left the company in October 2014. ‘I want to wish Andy all the best with what’s next,’ Larry Page, Google’s chief executive then, said in a public statement. … What Google did not make public was that an employee had accused Mr. Rubin of sexual misconduct. The woman, with whom Mr. Rubin had been having an extramarital relationship, said he coerced her into performing oral sex in a hotel room in 2013, according to two company executives with knowledge of the episode.

“Google investigated and concluded her claim was credible … Mr. Rubin was notified, they said, and Mr. Page asked for his resignation. Google could have fired Mr. Rubin and paid him little to nothing on the way out. Instead, the company handed him a $ 90 million exit package, paid in installments of about $ 2 million a month for four years, said two people with knowledge of the terms. The last payment is scheduled for next month.” NYT

MEDIAWATCH — “Megyn Kelly Out At NBC’s ‘Today’ Show, Source Says,” by NPR’s David Folkenflik: “Megyn Kelly was once talked about as the future face of NBC News — possibly as its next chief news anchor. Now, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter, she has lost her perch as host of NBC’s Today show at 9 a.m. Negotiations between NBC and Kelly are ongoing, the person said.

“‘It’s clear she will not be returning to the network,’ the person told NPR. Over the past two days, Kelly has unsuccessfully sought to contain the damage from several statements she made on her hour on Today defending the desire of white people to dress up in blackface costume for Halloween.” NPR


SPOTTED: Bill and Hillary Clinton last night at the Walter Kerr Theatre for “Springsteen on Broadway.” “The Boss gave them a wave at the end of the show,” according to our tipster — pic … Reince Priebus speaking at a closed-door event in a fireside style chat with Bank of America executives at The Berkeley Hotel in London.

BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Suzanne Reichardt of McLarty Associates
(h/t Akhil Berry)

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Mark Landler, NYT White House correspondent, whose parents named him after the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. How he got his start in journalism: “I joined The Times as a copy boy two weeks after graduating from college. I was in the last generation of kids who still ripped reams of wire copy off a Teletype machine and ran it to the various desks in the newsroom. I also got to fetch dinner for copy editors, work as a leg-man during the Howard Beach murder trial, and sit for hours in a company car, monitoring the comings and goings at John Gotti’s house in Queens, for the paper’s organized-crime reporter.

“My first big byline was a Sunday Business profile of a press-friendly 43-year-old Manhattan property developer who bought the Eastern Shuttle and renamed it the Trump Shuttle.” Playbook Plus Q&A

BIRTHDAYS: Hillary Rodham Clinton is 71 … Caren Bohan, Washington editor at USA Today … Benny Weiser … Paula Faris … Tom Johnson … Nico Pitney, political director for NowThis … Jef Pollock, president of Global Strategy Group … Frank Lavin … Jeff Rubin, comms director at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy … Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.) is 74 … Katy Tur, NBC News correspondent and anchor of MSNBC Live at 2 p.m. (hat tip: Erika Masonhall) … Scott Jennings, principal at RunSwitch Public Relations and a CNN contributor, is 41 … Richard Yamada … Phil Blando … Max McGloin … Mark Rozell … Ilia Rodriguez … Aakash Kumar … Jessica Church … Morgan Corr … Cotton Puryear is 55 … Dani Feldman of CoStar Group … Catherine Sullivan, EVP of global communications at BCW Global (h/ts Don Baer and Ben Chang) … Bolivia president Evo Morales is 59 … Perry Apelbaum … Amanda Smith, communications director for Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), is 3-0 (h/t Ken Farnaso) …

… Betsy Hoover … Politico’s Clement Rousseau … NARAL’s Kaylie Hanson Long and Sasha Bruce … Politico’s Amanda Leader … Kristin Lynch, press secretary for Sen. Booker … Sasha Cohen … Christine Stineman … Craig Frucht, deputy communications director for Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) running for governor of Colorado (h/t Kristin Lynch) … GPG’s Aleta Greer … Bianca Brosh … Beth Ver Steeg … PAE’s Derrick McLane is 33. He’s celebrating on a flight back from Dubai (h/t John Cummins) … Kim Waskowsky of Rep. Karen Handel (R-Ga.)’s office (h/t Abby McHan) … Aiden O’Connell … Simon Boehme … Molly Fitzgerald … Jake O’Donnell … Shilpa Pesaru … Megan Lubin … Kerri Forrest … John Grady … Nick Gwyn … Jill Salyers … Sam Speth … Andrea Roper … Jerry Crawford … Michael Sabbath … Adam Klaus … Caroline Cunningham … Kirk Fabel … Graham Link … Katrina Coleman (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)

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