The TAKE with MaryAlice Parks
There were no "send her back" chants this time.
During President Donald Trump's rally on Thursday, he didn't mention by name "the squad," the four Democrats, new to the House of Representatives, whom he's recently targeted repeatedly.
You can imagine Republicans exhaled, relieved that those racist lines from two weeks ago didn't re-emerge.
Still, for a president who says he's proud of his economic record, parts of his speech were dark, his rhetoric often grim.
He's repeatedly painted a dire picture of some of America's largest and most diverse cities, saying Los Angeles had "horrible, disgusting conditions" and San Francisco is now all "deplorable."
There was a dissonance with a president running for reelection on his record, while talking about the country in such a negative light.
Sure, no U.S. city is perfect. Los Angeles and San Francisco both have struggled with homelessness and crime, but both have also seen record job booms, and, in fact, often lead the country in job creation.
Violent crime in Los Angeles has fallen about a third from 25 years ago. Ask Los Angelenos over the age of 60 about downtown, and they'll talk your ear off about the exciting revitalization and myriad young entrepreneurs living there.
Big picture, roughly 1 out of 8 Americans lives in California. They're proud. Some are Republicans, yet Trump insulted all of them Thursday night, like he often does with those he assumes prefer another political party.
It's strange to be in an election season where the president on the campaign trail doesn't sound interested in trying to win over whole parts of the very country he now leads.
The RUNDOWN with John Verhovek
As nearly the entire Democratic field heads west this weekend for a candidate forum in Nevada, the candidates take with them the bumps, bruises and frustrations that boiled over during this week's second round of debates.
Out of those frustrations, a new fault line has appeared in the Democratic field over the legacy of President Barack Obama, and whether or not the man who served him loyally for eight years as vice president should be the one to unseat Trump.
"I was a little surprised how much incoming there was on Barack," former Vice President Joe Biden said on Thursday in Detroit. "I don't think he has anything to apologize for, and I think it kind of surprised me the degree of the criticism."
It mostly came from progressive candidates who are still trying to break through a crowded pack, such as Obama's former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. They both took aim at Biden over immigration, a topic that could arise again this weekend.
Criticizing Obama, a revered figure in the Democratic Party, comes at some candidates' peril, and creates a risk of generating the "circular firing squad" in the party the former president warned about last year.
The TIP with Sasha Pezenik
Between debate study sessions, many of the candidates made stops across Michigan with union workers.
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., toured the UA Local 636 pipefitters training center in Troy; Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., met with members of the Mechanists Union in Detroit; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg marched with Downtown Detroit Security Officers rallying to unionize and get a $15 minimum wage; former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, ate lunch with historically independent Macomb County voters -- many of them union workers concerned for their health care under "Medicare for all"; and he and Kamala Harris both spent their first hours in Nevada doing "Walk A Day In My Shoes" event with SEIU workers.
It's the kind of shoe-leather stumping we've come to expect of presidential hopefuls, but this may in fact have been prep for this weekend's American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Public Service Forum in Las Vegas, where at least 19 of the 24-strong candidate field will court the labor vote.
An endorsement from AFSCME means national support any candidate would covet. Card-carrying candidates will have to switch gears from stage soundbites to direct conversations with workers from the country's largest public labor union. They will answer questions not from debate moderators but from union members on their plans to fight for labor rights.
Their answers could frame how one of the country's most crucial voting blocks picks its candidate.
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