The TAKE with Rick Klein
Trump is now washing his hands of the long fight against the Islamic State in northern Syria, saying it now "has nothing to do with us." He is "embarrassed" by the number of countries that have a U.S. troop presence and blames the "military-industrial complex" for driving the opposition to his decision to withdraw troops from the area.
That came on the same day that 129 Republicans joined all House Democrats in condemning a move that has already had vast human consequences. Hours after that vote, House Democratic leaders left a White House meeting on Wednesday amid what they labeled a "meltdown" by the president that devolved into name calling.
This is all separate from the impeachment inquiry that continues to gain steam. Except that it all might be connected; Trump's attacks on Sen. Mitt Romney, and his veiled threats aimed at Sen. Lindsey Graham, speak to the political stakes facing the president.
Graham said Wednesday, "the problem with President Trump -- he talks like Ronald Reagan and he acts like Rand Paul on occasion."
The Trump doctrine is an explosive and contradictory one that, at its core, isn't always coherent -- or particularly consistent with Republican Party principles.
Trump is acting as if he owns the GOP. That's only because, as of now, he still does.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
Former Vice President Joe Biden expressed relief on Wednesday following the latest Democratic primary debate and said that he appreciated other candidates, namely Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who took more of the direct fire.
"It's kind of about time other people get questioned," he said, putting a positive spin on the fact that the field of Democratic candidates acted Tuesday as if Warren was the bigger or more immediate threat.
One of the candidates who brought a piece of that fight to Warren was former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke.
Specifically, O'Rourke questioned some of Warren's proposed tax policies.
"Sometimes I think that Sen. Warren is more focused on being punitive or pitting some part of the country against the other instead of lifting people up and making sure this country comes together around those solutions," he said at the debate.
On Thursday, O'Rourke plans to bring the fight to Trump instead. The president is traveling to O'Rouke's home state for a number of stops and an evening rally in Dallas. The former congressman plans to lead an event to counter-program the presidential visit.
There is a competitive primary underway as the Democratic Party looks to take on another sitting Lone Star State senator. Expect both parties to be out in force.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is capitalizing on his fiery debate performance in Ohio -- raking in tens of thousands of dollars in donations and enjoying a polling swing in his favor after going toe-to-toe with front-runner Warren over health care, fellow veteran Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on foreign policy and Democratic rival O'Rourke on gun reform.
The once unknown presidential candidate surged in popularity early this year, but then faded amongst a crowded field of Democrats, struggling since then to reach the top tier alongside Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Biden.
Now, the Midwest mayor is seeing a resurgence of support. A new post-debate poll from ABC News partner FiveThirtyEight and Ipsos shows Buttigieg gaining the largest boost, 4.5 points, amongst Democratic primary voters who say they'd consider supporting him. His net favorability rating also jumped 2.6 points, the second biggest surge of any Democrat, behind only Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Within a 24-hour period, his campaign was also injected with new fuel, raising $1 million since the end of the debate. While others have tried and failed at executing an aggressive strategy on stage at the three previous debates, the 37-year-old may have successfully pulled it off and found new footing for the critical months ahead.
ONE MORE THING
Elijah Cummings, the long-serving Democratic congressman who was deeply involved in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, has passed away at the age of 68. He had represented Maryland's 7th congressional district since 1996.
ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Thursday morning's episode features ABC News Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, who tells us why Democrats walked out of a White House Meeting on Syria. ABC News Chief Global Affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz examines if the U.S. delegation will be able to convince Turkey's president to institute a ceasefire. Then, ABC News Senior Congressional correspondent Mary Bruce joins the show to discuss the latest on impeachment and Rudy Giuliani. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., joined ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and Brad Mielke, host of ABC News' "Start Here" podcast, calling out President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, for an alleged "shakedown scheme" involving Ukraine and at least four men who have recently been arrested on campaign finance charges. http://apple.co/2Zfz5nD
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