The Note: October surprises threaten GOP ‘peace and prosperity’ messages

A faltering stock market and tension with Saudi Arabia could command attention.

The TAKE with <a href="" target="_blank">Rick Klein</a>

The midterm campaigns resumed their normal rhythms this week – disrupted only briefly by a major hurricane, and a minor storm known as Kanye West in the Oval Office.

The post-Brett Kavanaugh version of normal is one where Republicans see the House slipping away, and Democrats again fear the same about their chances in the Senate.

It’s also one where potential October surprises abound.

President Donald Trump kept his campaign schedule intact, and even kept his bizarre appointment with Kanye.

But the late-week stock selloff threatens to overwhelm all. On the foreign front, a crisis with Saudi Arabia has challenged the Trump White House as well as Trump family relationships.

Republican candidates have found solace and stability in selling “peace and prosperity” amid the Trump-driven din. It’s noisy as ever, but there are plenty of storylines capable of breaking through it all.

The RUNDOWN with <a href="" target="_blank">MaryAlice Parks</a>

Republicans seem to be riding high, but could overconfidence come back to bite them?

Senators are basically out of Washington now until November. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said they were good to go, their work was done until after Election Day.

This week, McConnell also said the Supreme Court confirmation fight was a shot of "adrenaline" to the Republican base.

The funny thing is: Democrats say the exact same thing.

Meanwhile, the president, too, was hanging out with Kanye West a day after a historic storm washed away houses, flooded streets and wrecked communities in Florida.

He kept to his political events this week, even as millions of Americans were preparing for and feeling the brunt of another terrible storm.

But while the White House appears to be playing it cool, its messaging on health care this week felt nothing short of desperate.

If the so-called "red wall" is so intact, why would the president and GOP need to respond in such force to the Democrats' platform and campaign issues?

The TIP with <a href="" target="_blank">John Verhovek</a>

With talk of the Senate landscape shifting toward Republicans in the final sprint to November, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is launching a major new ad buy in a state that's been on the periphery of the GOP battleground this cycle: Montana.

On the heels of President Trump’s op-ed attacking Democrats on health care, and amid a broader pivot by Republican candidates on protecting coverage for pre-existing conditions, the Chamber is up with a new seven-figure ad campaign, first reported by ABC News, urging Democratic Sen. Jon Tester to reject a “Medicare-for-All” system pushed by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

The monolithic message from Republicans, from the president on down, that's emerged in these final weeks, is up against a concerted push from Democrats to win a messaging battle on health care that began after the GOP’s failed attempt last year to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Democrats have largely set the tone this cycle and candidates (including many of the record number of women on the ballot) in battleground districts from Michigan to Kentucky to California are talking about deeply personal health care experiences in races against House Republican incumbents who voted to repeal the ACA.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Friday morning's episode features ABC Chief National Affairs correspondent Tom Llamas, who previews his exclusive interview with First Lady Melania Trump. ABC News Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl tells us about the bizarre scene in the Oval Office Thursday featuring President Trump and Kanye West.


  • President Trump holds a "Make America Great Again" rally at 7 p.m. in Lebanon, Ohio, about 30 miles northwest of Cincinnati, where GOP Rep. Steve Chabot is in the midst of a tough re-election campaign against Democratic Hamilton County Clerk Aftab Pureval.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Indiana and Kentucky where Democrats are playing defense and offense, respectively. In Indiana, Biden will rally with Sen. Joe Donnelly who is attempting to protect his blue seat in the red state, and in Kentucky, Biden joins up with Amy McGrath, the Democrat aiming to take down Rep. Andy Barr in the 6th Congressional District.
  • Vice President Mike Pence returns home to Indiana to headline the state Republican Party's Fall dinner. Also in attendance will be Donnelly's challenger, former state Rep. Mike Braun, endorsed by both Pence and Trump.
  • A pair of former Obama Cabinet members and potential Democratic presidential candidates will raise their respective profiles with events. Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro campaigns with midterm candidates in Iowa, while former Attorney General Eric Holder holds a virtual town hall.
  • This Week on "This Week:" The Powerhouse Roundtable debates the week in politics, with former New Jersey governor and ABC News contributor Chris Christie, Democratic strategist and former DNC Chair Donna Brazile, New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman, and National Review editor Rich Lowry.
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