The TAKE with Rick Klein
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It's all connected. And it's all about Trump.
President Donald Trump's two most powerful means of political communication – rallies and tweets – have been on full display, with another campaign event coming Thursday in Pennsylvania, and yet another Saturday in Ohio.
The two Trump shows often seem disjointed, if not at cross-purposes. Making the case for Republican policies and candidates is one thing, but he runs the risk of making the case against them by tweeting government shutdown threats, and raging at Robert Mueller.
Where the two modes of communication intersect is where strategy is revealed. To the extent that Trump is focused, his focus is on motivating his base to become midterm voters.
That now includes going further than he's gone before to undermine faith in anything Mueller produces.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
It's slated to be a packed program of progressive powerhouses.
On Friday and this weekend, Democratic U.S. senators, members of Congress, candidates and governors are meeting in New Orleans for the annual Netroots Nation conference.
The gathering has a reputation for pushing elected officials to the left and bringing activists' issues, however challenging for Washington, to the forefront of conversations taking place in the Democratic Party.
In 2015, former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders, both presidential candidates at the time, met tough crowds and big pushback at the event for their language (or lack thereof) about the budding Black Lives Matter movement.
This year, the event comes just weeks after a sitting member of the Democratic congressional leadership lost his primary to a first-time candidate who self-identifies as a Democratic Socialist. The party as a whole has moved to the left on policy issues from health care to education and wages. But on issues such as Supreme Court nominations, Russia investigations and civil liberties, incumbent Democrats seem, each day, to weigh the cost and benefits of reserved politics versus full-on resistance.
This event, which also features several potential 2020 contenders, will allow leaders to test their ideas and strategies out in front of the base on the left.
The TIP with Esther Castillejo
Members of a sitting president’s party often avoid mentioning the incumbent when seeking office in a midterm election year, but 2018 has proven to be atypical even in this.
A new analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks advertising in politics and the money spent on it, shows that House, Senate and statehouse GOP candidates are not shying away from President Trump – in fact, the president was referenced positively in 14.8 percent of ads in races nationwide in the past couple of months.
That’s nearly 14 percentage points more than the positive mentions President Obama got during the same period in both his midterm cycles.
House Republican candidates are taking it even further this year – most of their ads this summer have focused on pro-Trump messaging, with taxes and immigration rounding out the top three themes in their campaign ads.
While much has been said about the Democratic “resistance,” Democrats running are not taking their war on the president to the airwaves. Anti-Trump messaging came in second behind health care in House race advertising, and didn’t even crack the top five issues Democratic candidates for Senate highlighted in ads from June 5 through July 29.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"The fact that I cannot identify the one person in this administration that is working night and day to make sure that our elections and communications in this country are protected from Russian intrusion speaks volumes," — Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin. D-Ill., told Powerhouse Politics podcast hosts Rick Klein and MaryAlice Parks Wednesday.
ABC News Podcast "Start Here." Today’s episode features ABC News’ Cecilia Vega discussing President Trump’s tweet calling for Jeff Sessions to end the Mueller probe. ABC News’ Serena Marshall weighs in on the Trump administration’s expansion of short term health plans, and ABC News Foreign Editor Kirit Radia tells us why the sanctions against Turkey send a strong message to NATO.
ABC News Podcast "Powerhouse Politics." Rick Klein and MaryAlice Parks interview Sen. Dick Durbin and Matt Schlapp.
NEED TO READ
Special counsel Mueller wants to ask Trump about obstruction of justice: Sources. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office wants to ask President Donald Trump about obstruction of justice, sources close to the White House tell ABC News. According to sources, the president learned within the last day that the special counsel will limit the scope of questioning and would like to ask questions both orally and written for the President to respond to. (John Santucci) https://abcn.ws/2LWodYa
Appropriate for Trump to 'actively manage' Mueller probe: ACU's Schlapp on Powerhouse Politics. Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union – the country's oldest conservative lobbying organization – discussed the Mueller investigation, the Koch brothers’ refusal to endorse a prominent Republican senatorial candidate, and the GOP’s challenge recruiting women to run for office on ABC's Powerhouse Politics podcast. (Lee Harris) https://abcn.ws/2v7OR6Q
WH not combating Russian election interference: Durbin on Powerhouse Politics. The Senate's second-ranking Democrat says that the Trump White House has no one in charge of combating Russian election interference. (Elizabeth Brown-Kaiser) https://abcn.ws/2MazX60
Trump to Sessions: Shut down Russia probe. President Donald Trump on Wednesday made what appeared to be his most direct public call yet for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to shut down special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, but his personal attorney later described it as only Trump's "opinion." (Meghan Keneally and Alexander Mallin) https://abcn.ws/2O32H1b
Sanders defends Trump's comment that you need an ID to buy groceries. The White House on Wednesday defended President Donald's Trump's false claim that people need photo identification to buy groceries -- made as he railed against alleged fraudulent voting at a rally in Tampa, Florida, Tuesday night. (Meredith McGraw) https://abcn.ws/2LPC9mL
Obama announces first wave of midterm election endorsements. Former President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced his endorsements in November's midterm elections -- a wide-ranging list of 81 candidates in federal and statewide elections across the country and the first since the inauguration of President Donald Trump. (John Verhovek) https://abcn.ws/2AwzCcG
Star witness 'may not' testify in Manafort trial: Prosecutors. Just one day after attorneys representing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort revealed their defense strategy is to peg Manafort’s former associate, Rick Gates, as the true culprit behind their client’s alleged crimes, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team countered by revealing they might not even call Gates to the stand. (Trish Turner and Lauren Pearle) https://abcn.ws/2LK8agz
Iowa's 1st Congressional District: Young Democrat takes aim at Freedom Caucus member. Iowa and politics go hand-in-hand, so it’s not a surprise that the race between Republican Rep. Rod Blum and Democratic State Rep. Abby Finkenauer for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District -- which voted for Barack Obama twice, but Trump in 2016 -- is gaining national attention. (Molly Nagle) https://abcn.ws/2Ki8VIr
Kentucky's 6th Congressional District: Former fighter pilot takes on GOP incumbent. This fall, Republican incumbent Rep. Andy Barr will face Democrat Amy McGrath, a former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, creating perhaps his most challenging defense of his seat since he took office in 2013 as Democrats search for a path to the House majority. (John Parkinson) https://abcn.ws/2vqCxh5
California's 48th Congressional District: Rohrabacher's Russia ties draw notice. California’s Orange County is at the epicenter of Democrats’ fight to take control of the House in November, and the 48th Congressional District is the heart of the traditionally Republican bastion in blue California. (Esther Castillejo) https://abcn.ws/2OBHexu
Groups on left and right head to battleground states for fight over Kavanaugh. As President Donald Trump’s pick for Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, makes his way through the halls of Congress to win over lawmakers ahead of a nomination vote, conservative and liberal women's groups are taking the case for -- or against -- Kavanaugh to the people. (Meredith McGraw) https://abcn.ws/2OBCXtY
Democrats call on acting EPA chief to distance himself from Scott Pruitt. The top Republican on the Senate committee that oversees the EPA on Wednesday called for acting chief Andrew Wheeler to made permanent, while Democrats called on Wheeler to distance himself from his controversial predecessor, Scott Pruitt. (Stephanie Ebbs) https://abcn.ws/2OBL7T6
Manafort Trial Day 2: A fake bill, a banned word, and a Rick Gates surprise. Politico reports. https://politi.co/2M9C7Db
The Washington Post reports: How QAnon, the conspiracy theory spawned by a Trump quip, got so big and scary. https://wapo.st/2KhppR0
The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.