The TAKE with Rick Klein
The Nancy Pelosi political clinic gets its latest show date on Wednesday, when she faces off in a vote for speaker of the House against ... well, no one at all.
A combination of expectation and resignation surrounds the series of steps that seem likely to result in handing Pelosi back the speaker's gavel.
Her survival atop the House Democratic conference is an unlikely tale more than a decade in the making. The so-far-fruitful effort to blunt a serious challenge has been a show of force, as disciplined as it is elegant.
It's also no small feat in this era of fractured politics. A restive, newly elected class of House Democrats is mostly falling in behind her, despite a campaign where her name was used as a stand-in for tired, liberal ideology.
Winning upwards of 40 seats helped her cause. So has President Donald Trump -- though not in the way he offered when he said he would gladly hand her Republican votes to become speaker.
Trump's post-election actions -- up to and including firing his attorney general and barbs aimed at special counsel Robert Mueller -- have served to remind Democrats of the stakes in this moment.
"The public has entrusted us to save our democracy," Pelosi wrote Tuesday in a letter asking colleagues to support her bid for speaker. The same discipline Pelosi has shown in keeping her grip on power will be an important quality come January.
The RUNDOWN with John Verhovek
It's been nearly two months since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and still it seems the White House is content to throw its collective hands up in the air when it comes to the question of who's responsible for the heinous crime.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday that the administration has still not seen "definitive evidence" that ties Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to the murder and national security adviser John Bolton questioned whether it was even necessary to listen to the audio of Khashoggi's murder.
But with the G-20 summit this weekend and the White House still not ruling out a meeting with the Saudi crown prince, the time for demurring and questioning should come to an end.
"Some kind of response to that certainly would be in order, and we are discussing what the appropriate response should be," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on the subject during a news conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
Whatever the response may be, and no matter the political complications confronting the White House when it comes to a crucial Middle Eastern ally, clarity on what happened to Khashoggi is the bare minimum needed when Trump steps back onto the world stage this weekend in Argentina.
The TIP with Adam Kelsey
Perhaps because Alabama and Mississippi sit right next to each other and share decades-long, deeply conservative voting histories, there seemed to be an eagerness to compare Tuesday night's closer-than-usual Mississippi Senate runoff to Sen. Doug Jones' surprise 2017 victory in Alabama.
But Democrats' successes -- if they can truly be labelled as such -- were the result of wholly distinct circumstances and don't seem to be indicative of any other immediate party triumphs, at least in that part of the country.
Democrat Mike Espy benefited from Mississippi's employment of the non-partisan top-two voting system, which forced Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith to face her "primary" challenger on Election Night, leading to results that, to the casual observer, seemed to show the Democrat nipping at her heels.
In any other state, the senator would've dispatched with Republican Chris McDaniel in an earlier contest, been the strong Election Day favorite, and the race would've received little fanfare -- as was the case for the other Magnolia State Senator, Roger Wicker.
In Alabama, in a unicorn of an election, it took a spectacularly poor candidate, Roy Moore, to give Democrats a victory. And even then, with numerous allegations of sexual assault, including of minors, stacking up against the already polarizing Moore, Jones won by fewer than 2 points.
That's not to say that all is lost for Democrats in the reddest of strongholds. The party staged House upsets earlier this month in Oklahoma, South Carolina and Staten Island, New York.
Despite inroads, the Gulf Coast remains far from the best example of this year's blue wave -- and the tide remains crimson.
ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Wednesday morning's episode features ABC News Senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce and ABC News' Trish Turner, who analyze Rep. Nancy Pelosi's ongoing vote-wrangling to win Speaker of the House, and Sen. Jeff Flake's threat to not vote for Trump's judicial nominees until there's a vote on legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. ABC News Senior Foreign correspondent Ian Pannell explains why the war in Afghanistan is still claiming American lives. And, ABC News Chief Business and Economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis examines Trump's tweet, which raised the prospect of cutting all General Motors subsidies. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" Podcast. ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" Podcast. On ABC's "Powerhouse Politics" podcast, ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein talk with retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal about President Trump and McChrystal's new book, "Leaders: Myth and Reality." https://bit.ly/2w091jE
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