The Note: Florida and Arizona primaries show lure of Trumpism

The moment belongs to Sen. John McCain. But the GOP still belongs to Trump.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The moment belongs to Sen. John McCain. But the Republican Party still belongs to President Donald Trump.

Tuesday's primaries, highlighted by voting in Arizona and Florida, figure to demonstrate the powerful lure of Trumpism, alongside the political hibernation of McCainism.

In Florida, Trump plucked an obscure congressman and made him frontrunner in the GOP primary for governor. The outgoing governor endorsed Trump's presidential campaign relatively early, and now is a leading hope for Republican takeover of a Senate seat.

In McCain's home state of Arizona, all three Republicans have cast themselves as Trump warriors – with little of the independent streaks displayed by McCain or the man whose Senate seat is on the ballot, Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.

Trump has made at least part of this moment about himself and his differences with McCain. His arm-crossed silence on Monday when asked about McCain, and a reluctant lowering of White House flags in his honor, marked a distraction from a period of remembrance.

With his passing, McCain sought to make the nation feel optimistic about politics, while delivering a warning that was clear in its target: "We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down," McCain wrote in his farewell message.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

If you're looking for Republicans willing to cross the aisle or casting themselves as party mavericks, you'll find a few in key House races -- interestingly, in some of the most competitive House races in the country.

Sure, it makes sense that that's where they'd be. In true swing districts, or places with Republican traditions but where Hillary Clinton did well, Republicans might need to present themselves as moderates to survive.

Still, considering how Republicans have lurched to defend the man in the White House in so many zip codes, it is fascinating that their hopes for keeping control of the House could lie with their colleagues who are carefully sidestepping him.

Take two key races in the spotlight Tuesday night: AZ-2 in Tucson and FL-27 outside Miami. Both are Republican-held districts, but ones where Hillary Clinton outperformed Trump. In both places, the Republican frontrunners are Latina women who are rather moderate on immigration and, you could say, little more than tolerant of the president.

Maria Elvira Salazar is a strong favorite in her primary and could foil Democrats' hope of picking up the seat in Florida. When asked about the president recently, she pivoted and talked about how he deserves respect, because the "office" deserves respect.

In the Arizona seat, Lea Marquez Peterson, the local Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president, has said she focuses on policy and not what the president says.

The TIP with Elizabeth McLaughlin

Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford brief reporters Tuesday morning in a rare, on-camera appearance by the Defense Department's leadership.

Mattis and Dunford have largely avoided the Pentagon briefing room -- each man appearing there on only three occasions since President Trump took office. They have briefed together only twice: once last April after the U.S. retaliated for Syria's chemical weapons attack and the other in May 2017 to talk about the war against ISIS.

Their joint appearance comes as the Pentagon press corps has become increasingly concerned about a lack of access to the department's leadership and to information more generally. Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White has not held her once-regular Thursday briefings since the end of May. Separately, it was disclosed in the past few weeks that she is under a DOD inspector general investigation for alleged inappropriate use and treatment of staff.

The absence of the Pentagon's viewpoint has become particularly noticeable at a time when the military is often top-of-mind for the president. Mattis and Dunford have avoided the lights of the briefing room as debate raged on about the now-canceled military parade, a future Space Force, and the loss of service members in Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan.


  • It's primary day! The ABC News politics team will be live-streaming all night with primary coverage. Find us on or the ABC News app on your Apple, Android, or Roku devices.
  • Here are the opening and closing times for the polls tonight (all times EDT):
  • Arizona: open 9 a.m., close 10 p.m.
  • Florida: open 7 a.m. close 8 p.m.
  • Oklahoma: open 8 a.m., close 8 p.m.
  • President Trump holds a closed meeting with the president of FIFA at 2:45 p.m. in the Oval Office.
  • Embattled DOJ official Bruce Ohr meets behind closed doors with the House Judiciary and Oversight committees at 9 a.m.
  • Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford hold an on-camera press briefing at the Pentagon.

    "I found myself on both sides of that table over the years. John and I stood shoulder to shoulder on some of the most important issues to each of us, and we also disagreed entirely on huge subjects that helped define our careers" — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor Monday, the first day back after John McCain's death.


    ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Tuesday morning's episode features ABC News Senior National Correspondent Terry Moran and ABC News Political Director Rick Klein previewing tonight's primary action in 3 states. ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl tells us about his repeated attempts to get President Trump to talk about the late John McCain. And, ABC News' Zunaira Zaki breaks down the new trade agreement between the US and Mexico.

    ICYMI: ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" Podcast. On Monday's special edition podcast, ABC News' Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein reminisce with Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank about covering McCain, from the halls of the Capitol to the Straight Talk Express.


    Florida vote first test for Delaney Tarr and Parkland's anti-gun violence activists. Five months ago, stepping onto the March For Our Lives stage this past spring in Washington, D.C., 17-year-old Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Delaney Tarr emerged from her four-minute speech as one of the most poised and vocal leaders in the reinvigorated culture war against gun violence. (Kendall Karson)

    'Political correctness is like a cancer': Arizona Republican defends controversial social media posts. One of the Republicans running for Senate in Arizona spent time on the last day before the primary election to parse through whether or not she meant to offend people in her recent social media posts, one of which included a suggestion there was a narrative at play when Sen. John McCain announced he was stopping his cancer treatment. (Meghan Keaneally)

    ICYMI: Meet the 3 Republicans battling it out in the Arizona Senate race. The three Arizona Republicans battling to become their party's nominee for the Senate seat being left open by Sen. Jeff Flake are all painting themselves as the most conservative one in the ring. (Meghan Keneally and Adam Kelsey)

    ICYMI: In Florida Senate race, Rick Scott treads carefully around Trump. Since launching his U.S. Senate campaign to unseat longtime Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in April, Florida's GOP Gov. Rick Scott, an early and vocal Trump supporter, has taken a markedly cautious approach to a president who has consistently injected political chaos into an already uncertain midterm election landscape. (John Verhovek and Lissettte Rodriguez)

    Trump announces new US trade deal with Mexico; looking to 'terminate' NAFTA. After months of negotiations, President Donald Trump on Monday announced the United States and Mexico have agreed on revisions to key parts of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) -- a trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico. (Deena Zaru, Katherine Faulders and Meridith McGraw)

    USDA to buy $1.2B in goods, offer $5B in aid to farmers hurt by trade war. The largest purchases are for pork and dairy products. But in addition to those, the government will spend $12 million in peanut butter, $1.7 million in blueberries, and $15,000 in figs. (Stephanie Ebbs)

    Trump speaks about McCain after ignoring questions all day, returns White House flag to half-staff The president issued a statement midafternoon, but throughout much of the day, he ignored almost a dozen questions from ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl and other reporters on McCain. (Nataly Pak and Meridith McGraw)

    With his desk draped in black, Senate leaders honor McCain. "When John saw an issue the same way you did, you knew you'd just found your most stalwart ally. You'd thank your lucky stars. Because when you found yourself on the other side of that table, as I think all of us learned, you were in for a different kind of unforgettable experience," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in opening remarks. "Either way, serving alongside John was never a dull affair." (Cheyenne Haslett and Mariam Khan)

    'It's egregious and unforgiving': Arizona voters weigh in on Trump's reaction to McCain's passing. I do appreciate him being honest rather than overly sycophantic about it but he could have done a few things more to show respect for such a war hero," one Republican voter in Arizona said.(Meghan Keaneally)

    Milbank: McCain relished being the 'antidote' to Donald Trump. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, a veteran reporter who also covered McCain during the Straight Talk Express years, talked about his memories on the "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. (Avery Miller)

    Between his former attorney Michael Cohen and former campaign manager Paul Manafort, last Tuesday was not a good day for Trump's presidency. But was it a day that fundamentally changed it? ABC News' friends at Fivethirtyeight take a look.

    In a profile by the New York Times ahead of the primaries in Florida today, 77-year-old former Cabinet member under President Bill Clinton Donna Shalala, who's running for a U.S. House seat, proves she's still got a fight in her.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.