WELCOME BACK … LOTS OF NEWS … 64 DAYS UNTIL ELECTION DAY …
REPUBLICANS DON’T WANT TO BE IN WASHINGTON THIS MONTH — especially House Republicans. All they need to do is fund the government, and prevent PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP from making this showdown about immigration policy — because the GOP leadership believes the specter of a shutdown and a prolonged discussion about migration policy are losers for the folks trying to hold onto the House. Get government funded, do no harm and get out of town — that’s the GOP’s mantra for the month.
— WE EXPECT THE HOUSE will cancel a whole chunk of time in session if they can get the government funding situation worked out. Rachael Bade and John Bresnahan on the GOP scramble to avoid a shutdown
THE NEXT VIRAL HOUSE DEM CHALLENGER SPOT … MJ HEGAR, who is running a long-shot race against Texas GOP Rep. John Carter, has already had a viral ad this year: her first bio spot, called “Doors.” Now she’s cut a health care spot called “COVERED.”
— THE SPOT, created by Mark Putnam’s firm Putnam Partners, uses her tattoos to talk about her military experience, and health care position. SELECTED EXCERPT: “When I took a round through my helicopter’s windshield, the bullet fragmented against my arm and life. I immediately learned how important quality medical care is. And it’s why I’ll fight politicians and insurance companies to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs.” Cut to a shot of her arm, and tattoos: “And I use these tattoos to cover the scars. I approve this message so our families can be covered with quality health care they can actually afford.” The 30-second spot
— WHY THIS COULD BE EFFECTIVE: It talks about health care, without mentioning Obamacare. And it emphasizes what Democrats view as one of Hegar’s central strengths: her military background.
VERY BAD NEWS FOR THE GOP … NEW WAPO/ABC NEWS POLL … SCOTT CLEMENT and DAN BALZ: “Registered voters say they favor the Democratic candidate over the Republican candidate in their district by 52 percent to 38 percent. That is a marked increase from the four-point edge in an April Post-ABC poll but similar to the 12-point advantage Democrats enjoyed in January.” WaPo … Full poll results
— THIS IS A MASSIVE generic ballot advantage for Democrats that would likely give them a wave on Election Day. Republicans say they need to keep the generic ballot to within six or seven points to keep the House. But the Democrats’ ballot lead has seesawed from low single digits to the mid-teens for the last few months, so we’ll have to wait and see if this holds.
THE VIEW FROM FIRST STREET SE … THE NRCC sent a memo to campaigns — entitled “2018 update” — which says, in part, “In spite of history and conventional wisdom inside the Beltway, as it stands today, Republicans are well-positioned to maintain control of the House.” Read the memo
— WAPO’S DAN BALZ breaks down “The political stakes for the midterm elections: A blue wave or not?”
— HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI to NPR about whether she’ll have the votes to become speaker again: “It is the least important question you could ask, with all due respect to your list of questions there.” NPR
— HOW THE PRESIDENT SEES IT — @realDonaldTrump at 2:11 p.m.: “Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff……”
— THE CHARGES AGAINST COLLINS stem from a conversation he had during the Trump administration at a picnic Trump hosted at the White House.
JUANA SUMMERS is leaving CNN for the AP, where she’ll focus on Democratic politics, bureau chief Julie Pace will announce this morning in a note to staff.
NEW BOOK ALERT … NYT’S MIKE SHEAR and JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS are writing a book about “President Trump and his administration as told through the prism of immigration, the issue that animated his campaign and has defined his tumultuous presidency.” Simon and Schuster is publishing the book, the first for both of them.
Good Tuesday morning. SAVE THE DATE: ANNA and JAKE will be in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday, Sept. 20 for our latest Playbook Elections event focused on the 2018 midterms and 50+ voters. Doors open at 8 a.m. RSVP
HAPPENING TODAY — It’s primary day in Massachusetts where everyone is watching whether 10-term Rep. Mike Capuano can stave off a challenge by Boston city council member Ayanna Pressley. Stephanie Murray on how the primary clash is testing Capuano … Listen to Anna’s Women Rule podcast with Pressley
SCOTUS WATCH … THE KAVANAUGH hearing tips off at 9:30 a.m. today in Hart 216.
BREAKING OVERNIGHT … WAPO’S FRED BARBASH and SEUNG MIN KIM: “Hours before Kavanaugh nomination hearings, Bush lawyer releases 42,000 pages of documents to Judiciary Committee”: “Hours before the start of hearings on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, the lawyer for former president George W. Bush turned over 42,000 pages of documents from the nominee’s service in the Bush White House, angering Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, who issued what is certain to be a futile call to delay the proceedings.
“‘Not a single senator will be able to review these records before tomorrow,’ Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted Monday evening. Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), responded that ‘our review team will be able to complete its examination of this latest batch in short order, before tomorrow’s hearing begins.’ A few hours later, a tweet from the committee said that the ‘Majority staff has now completed its review of each and every one of these pages.’” WaPo
— ELANA SCHOR: “Dems hunt for a win as they struggle in Kavanaugh battle”: “Brett Kavanaugh will step into the grueling national spotlight of a Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Tuesday. But the Democratic senators he’ll face are under intense pressure of their own — to make the best of a bleak political predicament.
“With Kavanaugh considered likely to win confirmation absent a major misstep, Democrats must keep pushing against long odds while carving out an upside to potential defeat. They’re readying an intense volley of questions for the 53-year-old appellate court judge on hot-button liberal issues from abortion to the Russia probe and aiming to create viral social media moments from particularly controversial exchanges in the hopes of chipping away at Kavanaugh’s credibility. …
“Even if Democrats can’t quash Kavanaugh’s confirmation, though, they know they’ll have to walk away from the fight with the minor victory of weakening Kavanaugh’s public persona and forcing Republicans to come up with the votes to approve him before a single one of their members comes off the fence.” POLITICO
— “Key Question in Senate Hearings: Would Kavanaugh Overturn Supreme Court Precedents?” by WSJ’s Brent Kendall: “With Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings set to begin Tuesday, partisans on both sides are focusing on one of the most consequential questions surrounding his nomination: Whether he would stand firm with precedents set by landmark rulings or be willing to overturn them.
“Liberals warn that key rulings on abortion, affirmative action and gay rights could be weakened or reversed by a court that leans further to the right. Many conservatives, on the other hand, hope those precedents will be limited by future rulings and eventually crumble, even if Judge Kavanaugh moves carefully rather than tearing through established doctrine.” WSJ
— AP’S LISA MASCARO: “What to watch for as senators consider Kavanaugh nomination” … STEVEN SHEPARD: “Poll: Kavanaugh support falls along party lines” … POLITICO’s cheat sheet of confirmation buzzwords
— NEW AD … 45 COMMITTEE, a group that supports Trump administration policies, is running an ad with four attorneys general, urging the Senate to confirm Kavanaugh. The AGs in the spot include Pam Bondi of Florida, Jeff Landry of Louisiana and Tim Fox of Montana. The ad will run as part of a seven-figure campaign. The 30-second spot
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — VoteVets.org is launching a new $330,000 ad campaign in Maine and Alaska tomorrow to urge those states’ senators to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. One of the Maine ads, “Clear” … The second ad, “Severe” … Alaska ads
2020 WATCH — “Biden hits the trail like he’s running,” by Isaac Dovere in Pittsburgh: “Cue the jokes: Joe Biden is running. In fact, he spent much of Labor Day sprinting, more than a mile in total, doing intervals through the streets of one of America’s biggest union towns.
“Biden was here for the city’s Labor Day parade three years ago, the one and only campaign event of his almost-but-never-launched 2016 presidential campaign. A year later, he was back with Tim Kaine, trying to transfer his connection with these voters to the Democratic ticket.
“Monday’s parade kicked off what will be an intense, nine-week stretch of campaigning for Democratic candidates in the midterms, but also an extended gut check of whether the country has an appetite for another Biden run — and for him to decide if he has the appetite to make one.
“But here, in a part of the country that helped tip the 2016 election to Donald Trump but has since delivered Democrats their only House special election win, this is what a potential 2020 bid would look like: classic retail campaigning in parts of the country where Democrats have atrophied and which Hillary Clinton wrote off.
“When he was finished marching, Biden huddled with union head United Steelworkers president Leo Girard. There was even a videographer on the payroll catching every interaction, and a young man from the Republican attack group America Rising following along with his own camera, mumbling questions and then remarking with staged wonder into the camera that Biden wouldn’t answer them.” POLITICO
BREAKING OVERNIGHT … WAPO’S SAYED SALAHUDDIN in Kabul: “Former U.S. ally turned implacable foe dies in Afghanistan, Taliban announces”: “The statement said that Mawlavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, leader of one of the most effective militant networks in Afghanistan, ‘passed away after a long battle with illness.’ It did not give an exact time or place of death.
“Haqqani ‘was ill and bedridden for the past several years,’ the statement said. His sons long ago took over the day-to-day running of the network, and at a time of increased Taliban attacks on the government, his death is expected to have little impact. Haqqani was among the main recipients of U.S. covert military and financial aid during the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet army in the 1980s. But he joined the radical Taliban movement after they took over the country in 1996.” WaPo
THE JUICE …
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — KENNY CUNNINGHAM is joining MAV PAC, a conservative young donor network, as its executive director. The group says it’s planning to dole out $100,000 to GOP candidates in competitive races, including Martha McSally, Rick Scott, Andy Barr and Scott Taylor.
— CUFI ACTION FUND is putting another $100,000 behind an ad criticizing Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) on Iran. The spot
TRUMP’S TUESDAY — The president is having lunch with Vice President Mike Pence. He will meet in the afternoon with CEOs from the U.S. Travel Association.
PLAYBOOK ON THE ROAD — CONGRATS to our five winners, who all will receive a signed Matt Wuerker drawing: Max Clermont, co-founder and head of policy and strategy at Data for Black Lives (pic) … Steve Elmendorf, partner at Subject Matter, who was in Raymond, Maine (pic) … Christopher Fletcher, senior director of federal government relations at HMS, who was on Lake Michigan (pic) … Jeff Petrash of the National Propane Gas Association, who was in Salzburger, Germany (pic) … and Jake Perry, founder/principal of Jake Perry + Partners, who was in Marrakech (pic).
THE TRUMP ECONOMY … “Economy’s Surge Cuts Uneven Path in Districts,” by WSJ’s Siobhan Hughes and Dante Chinni in Lexington, Kentucky: “The U.S. economy is roaring like it hasn’t in many years, which ought to be good news for the Republican Party in the run-up to the midterm elections. A deeper look at the economic data by congressional district reveals a less even picture. Data assembled for The Wall Street Journal by the Institute of International Finance shows that the economy is booming in some GOP-held battleground districts.
“At the same time, a sizable number of competitive districts — almost all currently Republican—are vulnerable to new tariffs, a new cap on deductions for state and local income taxes, or a jobs picture worse than the national average.
“The result is a midterm election that reflects not a single nationwide picture, but a disparate series of miniatures. The upshot: The same accelerating national economy that could save a vulnerable Republican in the Virginia suburbs might hurt an at-risk GOP candidate in Kansas or Kentucky.” WSJ
VALLEY TALK — “Amazon Sets Its Sights on the $88 Billion Online Ad Market,” by NYT’s Julie Creswell: “Amazon, which has already reshaped and dominated the online retail landscape, is quickly gathering momentum in a new, highly profitable arena: online advertising, where it is rapidly emerging as a major competitor to Google and Facebook. The push by the giant online retailer means consumers — even Prime customers, who pay $119 a year for access to free shipping as well as streaming music, video and discounts — are likely to be confronted by ads in places where they didn’t exist before.” NYT
— “Fringe Figures Find Refuge in Facebook’s Private Groups,” by NYT’s Kevin Roose: Alex “Jones built his Facebook audience on pages — the big public megaphones he used to blast links, memes and videos to millions of his followers. In recent months, though, he and other large-scale purveyors of inflammatory speech have found refuge in private groups, where they can speak more openly with less fear of being punished for incendiary posts.
“Several private Facebook groups devoted to QAnon, a sprawling pro-Trump conspiracy theory, have thousands of members. Regional chapters of the Proud Boys, a right-wing nationalist group that Twitter suspended last month for its ‘violent extremist’ nature, maintain private Facebook groups, which they use to vet new members.” NYT
MEDIAWATCH — “New Yorker Cuts Steve Bannon From Festival Program After Outcry,” by WSJ’s Benjamin Mullin: “The New Yorker has disinvited former White House senior adviser Steve Bannon from its annual festival in the wake of public criticism from celebrities who said they wouldn’t attend the event if Mr. Bannon was allowed to participate. The magazine announced the decision to disinvite Mr. Bannon from its New Yorker Festival Monday evening, just hours after the list of guests was published online. The New Yorker’s editor, David Remnick, was originally slated to interview Mr. Bannon onstage. …
“Actor Jim Carrey, comedy producer Judd Apatow and comedian John Mulaney [had] all backed out, citing Mr. Bannon’s participation as the primary reason.” WSJ … Remnick’s statement explaining his reversal
— “NBC News Chief Lack: Farrow Story ‘Not Ready For Air’ at NBC,” by Variety’s Brian Steinberg: “NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack sent employees a detailed memo and an 11-page analysis Monday spelling out why the news organization felt it could not air journalist Ronan Farrow’s 2017 investigation into harassment allegations against movie-mogul Harvey Weinstein, the latest rebuke by the Comcast-owned unit against accusations it passed on one of the hottest stories in recent years without obvious reason.
“‘We spent eight months pursuing the story but at the end of that time, NBC News – like many others before us – still did not have a single victim or witness willing to go on the record,’ Lack said to staffers in the memo. Farrow disagreed with that standard, Lack said, and the two sides parted ways.” Variety … The memo and analysis
— CHUCK TODD in The Atlantic, “It’s Time for the Press to Stop Complaining—And to Start Fighting Back: A nearly 50-year campaign of vilification, inspired by Fox News’s Roger Ailes, has left many Americans distrustful of media outlets. Now, journalists need to speak up for their work.” The Atlantic
FOR YOUR RADAR — “Gordon brings hurricane warning for parts of Gulf Coast,” by Susannah Cullinane and Eric Levenson in CNN: “Much of the central Gulf Coast was under a hurricane warning late Monday as Tropical Storm Gordon, which is expected to strengthen, continued its march from the Florida Keys. The warning covers all of coastal Mississippi and Alabama … About 2 million people are under a hurricane watch or warning. Gordon is expected to produce rain accumulations of 4 to 6 inches over southern Alabama, southern and central Mississippi, and southeastern and northeastern Louisiana, with isolated maximum amounts of 8 inches through late Thursday.” CNN
SPOTTED: New Hampshire congressional candidate Levi Sanders attending a speech by his father, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), on Labor Day hosted by the NH AFL-CIO in Manchester, New Hampshire. Sanders has still not formally endorsed his son. Pic (h/t Hanna Trudo)
BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Tripp Donnelly, the CEO of brand and reputation management firm REQ (hat tip: Amy Clark)
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Jared Allen, senior director for media relations at the National Automobile Dealers Association. Trends he thinks deserve more attention: “[Puts on spokesperson’s hat] AAA recently found that the annual cost of relying exclusively on ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft was more than twice as much as owning a car, even in the largest cities. This certainly isn’t the narrative that Wall Street or Silicon Valley likes to spin. [Takes off spokesperson’s hat] The Bryce Harper contract situation. I’m losing sleep!” Playbook Plus Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell), POLITICO Magazine editor-in-chief, is 4-0 (h/t Ben Chang) … Anu Rangappa, director of the office of communications for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (h/t Tim Burger) … Jared Weinstein, general partner at Thrive Capital and a Bush W.H. alum … Harold Ickes is 79 … Anthony Weiner is 54 … Uber’s Keith Hensley … Jocelyn Pickford … Mike Morell is 6-0 (h/t Sam Vinograd) … William Hildebrandt Surgner … Wash Examiner’s Susan Ferrechio … former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer is 63 … Bernard Kerik is 63 … Maggie Moore, associate at the Sternhell Group (h/t fiancé Charlie Liebschutz) … Kelu Chao, VOA program director … Matthew Sonneborn, communications director at Chrissy Houlahan for Congress … Patrick Collins … Will Taliaferro (h/ts Jon Haber) … Michael McAuliff … The Economist’s Alex Travelli …
… Laura Schlapp, special assistant at the U.S. Air Force … Lynn Stinson … Bob Kenney … Politico’s Jeffrey Ahn … Rep. Vicente González (D-Texas) is 51 … Bernard Coleman III, global head of diversity and inclusion at Uber and an HFA alum (h/t Edda) … Shira Kramer … Sean O’Hollaren, SVP of gov’t and public affairs at Nike … Devin McBrayer … Estephania Gongora … Matthew Groves … Victoria Cram … Dana Gartzke … Glynnis MacNicol … Hannah Lerner … Kali Murphy … Brock McCleary … Chad Horrell, director at DCI Group … Anamarie Rebori Simmons … Chase Clymer … Graham Weinschenk … Hagar Hajjar Chemali … Matt Modell … Ashley Harvard … Jamie Moore … Bernie Bennett … Jerry Huang … Daniel Pablo Pinto … Tyler Jones … Bailey Cultice … Tom McInerney (h/t Teresa Vilmain)