The Note: Obama takes the midterms stage

PHOTO: Former President Barack Obama speaks at the funeral service for Sen. John McCain at the National Cathedral on Sept. 1, 2018 in Washington, D.C.PlayMark Wilson/Getty Images
WATCH Trump slams NYT op-ed by admin official as 'gutless'

The TAKE with Rick Klein

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Out of the chaos and norm-busting and institution-bursting of the last few days comes a voice from the not-so-distant past.

Former President Barack Obama will now start making himself known in the midterms, with a speech at the University of Illinois on Friday, followed by his first campaign trail appearance of the year, in California, on Saturday.

Obama will offer “new thoughts on this moment,” according to his spokeswoman, though he is expected to tread lightly when it comes to directly engaging President Donald Trump. (Trump, it barely needs saying, is unlikely to tread lightly on anything regarding Obama.)

It marks the re-emergence of a singular force in Democratic politics, though one who had distinctly less luck in building up his party than he did in getting elected himself.

Democrats from here on in will have their own powerful countervailing force. But as Trump campaigns again on Friday, in North Dakota, after a Montana trip on Thursday, the current president gets something he wants as well: a foil.

PHOTO: President Barack Obama speaks at the Hannover Messe, the worlds largest industrial technology trade fair, in Hannover, Germany, April 25, 2016.Carolyn Kaster/AP, FILE
President Barack Obama speaks at the Hannover Messe, the world's largest industrial technology trade fair, in Hannover, Germany, April 25, 2016.

The RUNDOWN with Rick Klein

“Bring it,” Sen. Cory Booker challenged Republicans on Thursday, after he appeared not to have broken Senate rules by releasing Brett Kavanaugh emails that were technically already cleared for public consumption.

Consider it brought. And like Kirk Douglas’ “Spartacus,” Booker wasn’t alone.

This week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court has doubled as a showcase for 2020 auditions. Booker, Sen. Kamala Harris, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar have been among those having campaign-ready moments jousting with, and over, a nominee who could change the court’s direction for a generation.

Notably, in a week that again demonstrated the restlessness in their base, the Democrats on the committee have been bringing more fight to this hearing than was perceived around the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Kavanaugh remains almost certain to be confirmed by the GOP-controlled Senate. But Democrats may have been able to flip the politics of these hearings in time for 2018 – and, yes, 2020.

The TIP with Kendall Karson

This time the Democratic establishment won.

Delaware Sen. Tom Carper beat back a primary challenge Thursday from biracial, first-time candidate Kerri Evelyn Harris, preserving an undefeated campaign record that began back in the 1970s.

During her campaign, Harris countered Carper’s decades of experience with personal and emotional ties to middle-class voters. But despite having Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as an ally, and riding a national wave of progressive energy that has included stunning upsets by Andrew Gillum in Florida and Ayanna Pressley in Massachusetts, the Air Force veteran fell short in her underdog crusade against a Delaware political fixture.

With a last-minute push from former Vice President Joe Biden, who made robocalls for him, and a significant fundraising advantage, Carper captured nearly 65 percent of the vote, compared to Harris' 35 percent, according to unofficial election results at the time the AP projected the incumbent the winner – this time, for a change.

PHOTO: Kerri Evelyn Harris, Democratic candidate for Senate in Delaware, speaks at a town hall at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del., Aug. 31, 2018.Patrick Semansky/AP
Kerri Evelyn Harris, Democratic candidate for Senate in Delaware, speaks at a town hall at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del., Aug. 31, 2018.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • Former President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the 'state of our democracy' at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus at 11 a.m. EDT.
  • President Trump delivers remarks at a Joint Fundraising Committee reception in Fargo, North Dakota, at 1 p.m. He then travels to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he’ll deliver remarks at a Joint Fundraising Committee reception at 4:30 p.m.
  • Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos will be sentenced at U.S. District Court in Washington Friday afternoon.
  • FBI director Christopher Wray and September 11 Victim Compensation Fund Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya hold a public forum with federal law enforcement officers who responded to the 9/11 attacks in New York City, at the Pentagon and at Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at 9 a.m.
  • This Week on “This Week”: The Powerhouse Roundtable debates the week in politics, with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl, former New Jersey Governor and ABC News Contributor Chris Christie, Democratic Strategist and ABC News Contributor Stephanie Cutter, former Romney-Ryan 2012 Campaign Policy Director Lanhee Chen, and New York Times Columnist Michelle Goldberg.
  • QUOTE OF THE DAY “He absolutely did not write this garbage.” — Interior Department press secretary Heather Swift, to ABC News in an email Thursday, when asked if Secretary Ryan Zinke authored the anonymous New York Times op-ed.

    THE PLAYLIST

    ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Friday morning's episode features a wrap-up of the final day of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh: FiveThirtyEight’s Perry Bacon Jr. says the proceedings were more partisan than ever. And, ABC’s Karen Travers checks in from the White House and says while plenty of officials are denying they wrote the infamous New York Times op-ed, they aren’t discussing the substance of the piece. https://bit.ly/2Ohkpz8

    NEED TO READ

    Inside Trump White House, still a guessing game about who wrote NYT op-ed. Inside the Trump White House and across the administration, it was still a guessing game Thursday in the informal hunt to figure out which senior official wrote an anonymous op-ed published by the New York Times. (Meridith McGraw, Katherine Faulders and Jordyn Phelps) https://abcn.ws/2MQp8ui

    In extraordinary move, Trump Cabinet members deny role in explosive NYT anonymous op-ed. Members of President Donald Trump's Cabinet and other top advisers took the extraordinary step Thursday of issuing public denials that they authored the bombshell New York Times op-ed attributed to an anonymous senior official in the administration.(Jordyn Phelps) https://abcn.ws/2MRWCJ1

    Bipartisan group of lawmakers introduce resolutions to rename NATO headquarters after John McCain. The resolution quoted McCain's own praise of the NATO alliance, including an opening statement he gave as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee last year. (Elizabeth McLaughlin and Ali Rogin) https://abcn.ws/2wQIXb4

    Republicans push Trump to declassify sensitive Russia investigation documents. A group of conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill called on President Donald Trump on Thursday to declassify sensitive documents tied to the investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia, and make public others related to Bruce Ohr, the DOJ official at the center of their concerns about Robert Mueller’s investigation. (Benjamin Siegel) https://abcn.ws/2NVe2AC

    In Montana rally, Trump attacks Democrats for 'sick' attacks against Supreme Court nominee. Speaking to supporters at a campaign rally in Montana on Thursday, President Trump went on the offensive against Democrats over what he described as "sick" attacks against his nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. (Alexander Mallin) https://abcn.ws/2CuluSi

    Sen. Cory Booker releases 'confidential' Kavanaugh emails in combative Supreme Court confirmation hearing. The ongoing partisan battle over whether documents from Brett Kavanaugh's work at the George W. Bush White House should be made public continued to dominate the nominee's Supreme Court confirmation hearing Thursday, as Democrats sought to uncover additional information about the judge's views on controversial issues. (Stephanie Ebbs, Trish Turner and Adam Kelsey) https://abcn.ws/2PIkDil

    Papadopoulos to be sentenced in Russia investigation. He pleaded guilty in October to making false statements to FBI agents about his correspondence with Russian nationals and attempts to arrange a meeting between the campaign and Russian officials. He faces up to six months in prison. (Matthew Mosk) https://abcn.ws/2CvbeJh

    Obama to receive ethics in government award from University of Illinois. In his speech at the event, Obama is expected to give a call to action ahead of the midterms, emphasizing the importance of Americans' voting and how they can engage during this unique time in American politics. (Stephanie Ebbs) https://abcn.ws/2wT2Vll

    DOJ announces charges against North Korean hacker for Sony, Wannacry cyber attacks. The Justice Department announced charges Thursday against a North Korean national who U.S. authorities have accused of being behind the massive hack of Sony in 2014 and the Wannacry ransomware attack last year. (Mike Levine and Kaelyn Forde) https://abcn.ws/2NfFWKT

    Sen. Tom Carper beats back progressive effort in Delaware primary. In Thursday's primaries, he faced a challenge that a growing number of longtime Democratic incumbents have been grappling with this midterm cycle: a young, progressive candidate looking to capitalize on the desire for an ideological and generational shift in the Democratic Party. (John Verhovek) https://abcn.ws/2CsV8zY

    Lawmakers postpone hearing into Trump administration hurricane response. The House Oversight Committee postponed a scheduled hearing Thursday on the Trump administration's response to series of devastating hurricanes in 2017, after a top government official said he would be unable to attend the hearing because of the ongoing hurricane season. (Benjamin Siegel) https://abcn.ws/2NUua5D

    Why Democrats Were Willing To Break The Rules On Kavanaugh Day 3. FiveThirtyEight reports. https://53eig.ht/2MWKVR6

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

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