The Note: Old-school scare tactics haunt campaign messaging

Republicans use old scare tactics against Democrats in midterms.

WASHINGTON, D.C. --

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Few things scare Democrats more than the prospect of President Donald Trump getting a midterm boost.

But Republicans are trying to scare voters about Democrats with messaging from pre-Trumpian — though no less vicious — days.

Scan a few GOP ads and you’ll see Democrats decried as Washington insiders, socialists, pro-Nancy-Pelosi-and-Hillary-Clinton liberals, sexual predators, anti-defense dangers, tax-hiking big spenders, and “radical” or “dangerous” in any of a dozen different ways.

A mailer in Arizona attacks a Democratic Senate candidate with imagery of a mushroom cloud. An Iraq war combat veteran running for a House seat in Minnesota is having his patriotism questioned in a TV ad, over his support for Colin Kaepernick.

Indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter is blasting his opponent as a “security risk” while labeling him “a Palestinian, Mexican, millennial Democrat” whose support is coming from vaguely nefarious places.

They are slash-and-burn tactics for an era of politics defined by sharp conflict. The tactics predate Trump, yet seem like good fits for his style nonetheless.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Is it 2020 already?

On Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., released a video that looked an awful lot like an announcement ad. She seemed to say she was running for president, without saying just that.

Instead, the formal line from her team is that she will give it “a hard look” after the midterm elections in November. But her video included a rebuttal to Republicans' most frequent, personal attack against her, a response to the president, a rejection of his discriminatory tone, and an introduction to her family’s middle-class story.

This weekend, too, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., will both be in Iowa, before hitting other early 2020 states, Nevada and South Carolina, respectively.

Democratic voters are hungry for leaders, but at what point is the look ahead, a look too far ahead. Should the party, for example, fail to win back control of at least the House of Representatives in three weeks, will these Washington incumbents have legs to stand on in the new year?

The TIP with John Verhovek

After Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke last week announced the biggest fundraising haul ever for a U.S. Senate candidate, a chorus of Democrats griped that the historic sums were better spent elsewhere, given a full slate of Democratic incumbents in red states struggling for political survival and a chance to snag control of the U.S. House at stake.

But as House candidates in key battleground districts begin to announce their own fundraising numbers, the concern, at least on that side of the battleground, may be for naught.

Thus far, seven Democratic House candidates, all in competitive races, have announced that they raised more than $3 million in the third quarter of 2018:

Josh Harder in California-10

Those are monumental numbers for non-incumbent candidates. And while money isn't everything, for these candidates it's a nice thing to have heading into the final three weeks of a campaign.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Tuesday morning’s episode features ABC News Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks, who says with three weeks until the midterms, Elizabeth Warren plunged into the 2020 presidential race with the results of her DNA test. https://bit.ly/2Ohkpz8

FiveThirtyEight's Politics Podcast: Can Democrats Win Big With Only Women? ABC News' friends at FiveThirtyEight consider whether Democrats can win the House or Senate by relying solely on their advantages with women. https://53eig.ht/2OqaNWu

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • The president has no public events scheduled today.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to meet with King Salman over the case of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump has vowed "severe punishment" if the government had anything to do with the disappearance.
  • Three weeks before the midterm elections, Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz debates Rep. Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic challenger in the Texas Senate race, shaking out to be one of the most closely watched contests in the country. It's been more than two decades since a Democrat represented Texas in the Senate. Still ahead: Despite their awkward history, on October 22, Trump will jump into the mix and head to Houston to campaign for Cruz.
  • In Iowa, congressional candidates Rep. Rod Blum, the Republican incumbent, and Abby Finkenauer, a Democratic state representative, face off in another debate in their agricultural district, which voted for former President Barack Obama twice, before flipping to vote for Trump in 2016.
  • Rep. Connor Lamb, Democrat, and Rep. Keith Rothfus, Republican, debate Tuesday in Pennsylvania's newly-drawn 17th Congressional District. Lamb narrowly won the special election in March to represent Pennsylvania's 18th District. Trump, who endorsed Rothfus, visited the state last week for a "Make America Great Again" rally.
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