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By Chuck Todd, Carrie Dann and Ben Kamisar

WASHINGTON — Heading into Trump’s speech last night, we were scratching our heads about what exactly the president would do with the bully pulpit.

Would he announce a national emergency at the border — and simultaneously call for an end to the shutdown — to give himself leverage on the wall? Express support or compassion for federal workers worried about their paychecks? Offer new information or a new pitch to reassure skeptical Republicans that he’s right to stay the course?

Now, nearly 12 hours after the speech, we’re still scratching our heads. After all the political capital the White House invested into requesting a half hour of the broadcast networks’ time, we’re starting today where we were yesterday morning — at an impasse, with both sides dug in, no real new information and no new path out of a shutdown that is now stretching into its 19th day.

In fact, Trump barely mentioned the shutdown at all. With hundreds of thousands of federal workers bracing to miss a paycheck in two days, Trump offered only the vague reassurance that “my administration is doing everything in our power to help those impacted by the situation.” Trump’s most vivid imagery came in the form of a more polished version of his 2018 campaign stump speeches, describing gruesome crimes by undocumented immigrants. But that’s essentially the same argument he’s been making since he launched his presidential run.

So, what was the point? Despite broadcasting to millions nationwide, Trump’s real intended audience seemed to be just a few miles down Pennsylvania Avenue. The test today will be whether congressional Republicans, who have been antsy about being on the losing side of shutdown politics, think the primetime address was enough to revive more public support for the shutdown.

But right now, we don’t see much evidence that they will.

And it made it harder for both sides to get to a deal

Trump’s insistence on the wall and his description of a border in crisis last night also made it harder to get to a shutdown deal sooner. After digging in on primetime TV, what incentive does he have to make any concessions in the short term? After the speech’s rehash of old Trump rhetoric, what incentive do Democrats have? The most definitive thing we learned from last night might be that the shutdown will stretch into next week.

Declaring a state of emergency might have provided a way to break the stalemate, but now we’re wondering if Trump may not have the internal support from Republicans he’d need for it. Don’t miss that Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said yesterday that using military dollars for the wall would be “damaging” to military readiness, adding “In short, I’m opposed to using defense dollars for non-defense purposes.”

Why now, redux?

Yesterday, we asked why the president chose this moment to give a primetime speech on his signature issue, rather than early in his presidency or at least at the start of the shutdown.

It turns out that the president had the same question. As the New York Times reports, citing two people briefed on the discussion, Trump said in an off-the-record lunch with reporters yesterday that he didn’t see the point of the speech or a Thursday visit to the border but was talked into it by his advisers. And it showed, by the way, in his delivery last night.

As the Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein wrote , the timing question may come down to one of mismanagement — and perhaps learning the wrong lesson from the 2016 election.

“[T]his is the downside of having an “outsider” president,” he writes. “Trump’s supporters loved that he wasn’t a typical politician, that he came from a business background, and that he shot from the hip. But translating campaign rhetoric into tangible policy success as president takes a lot more organization, competence, and discipline than Trump has demonstrated. So the most likely outcome of the current shutdown fight is that Trump will end up politically damaged, but with nothing to show for it.”

*“Build the Wall” vs. “Read My Lips”

Trump has moved the goalposts on the wall before (Mexico will pay for it! The trade deals will pay for it! Concrete! Steel!) but you can’t say he hasn’t made “Build the wall!” an unshakeable promise to his voters — no matter how politically damaging it may be.

For Trump, it may be a determination to avoid George H.W. Bush’s reversal on his “Read my lips” pledge. (Talk about the perils of an extremely memorable slogan when it runs up against political reality.)

Manafort shared campaign polling data with Russian linked to intelligence sources

With all the attention on yesterday’s primetime address, don’t miss this. “President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort shared campaign polling data with a Russian associate linked to Russian intelligence services — and then lied about it to federal investigators, according to court papers filed Tuesday.The disclosure was made by Manafort’s lawyers in a poorly redacted section of court papers that were filed to rebut the special counsel’s allegations that he lied to federal investigators. The lawyers revealed that Manafort was not truthful about providing polling data related to the 2016 presidential campaign to Konstantin Kilimnik.”

There’s no indication in the new documents of whether Trump was aware of the exchange or how the Russian involved might have used the data. But if this doesn’t point to some form of coordination with a foreign government during the 2016 campaign, then what does?

Tom Steyer to make announcement of “political plans for 2019 and beyond”

At 4:30pm ET, billionaire Tom Steyer will announce his “political plans” for the future in Iowa. Steyer, of course, spent millions of his own fortune to help Democrats in the midterms, turn out young voters and push his climate change and Trump impeachment messages on TV airwaves.

And/but: Don’t forget that his announcement also comes against the backdrop of this swipe from Elizabeth Warren last week: “No to the billionaires,” she said on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, speaking about the Democratic primary. “No to the billionaires whether they are self-funding or whether they are funding PACs.”

Elizabeth Warren leads DailyKos 2020 straw poll

Speaking of Warren, she’sthe winner of the first Daily Kos straw poll, coming in at 22 percent support. (That’s compared with 15 percent for Beto O’Rourke, 14 percent for Kamala Harris, 14 percent for Joe Biden and 11 percent for Bernie Sanders.) The progressive organization says it’ll repeat the straw poll every two weeks.

Unlike national polls that largely measure name ID this early on, the Daily Kos figures give a snapshot of what already-engaged progressive activists are thinking. What stood out the most to us, though, was the low standing for Bernie Sanders. It’s an alarm bell for his team that he’s struggling with folks who should be his ideological allies.



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EU reacts after anti-Brexit campaigners march through London – 'VERY TELLING IMAGES'

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THE European Commission has described the images of a reported one million people marching through the streets of London against Brexit as “very telling” as the UK continues to stumble over its withdrawal from the European Union.

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As Dems grapple with Omar fallout, GOP plugs more measures on anti-Semitism

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By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — As Democrats grapple with divisions over the best way to address rising anti-Semitism in the U.S., congressional Republicans have been pushing for a more aggressive approach — and angling for political dividends.

A fresh effort came from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who planned to introduce a measure Tuesday afternoon that would directly condemn “all forms of anti-Semitism,” a GOP aide told NBC News Monday, following the recent controversial remarks made by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., about Jewish lawmakers.

The resolution, obtained by NBC, alludes to the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust and states that “anti-Semitism has for hundreds of years included attacks on the loyalty of Jews, including the fabrication and circulation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion by the secret police of Russia.”

Critics have accused Omar of deploying the “dual loyalty” charge Jews have grappled with for centuries.

GOP leaders are planning to hold a floor vote on Cruz’s proposal, according to The New York Times. An aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined to confirm the plan.

The latest Republican push comes shortly after the tumultuous week House Democrats spent earlier this month split over how to respond to Omar’s comments, the latest in a series of remarks from the freshman lawmaker to spark similar controversy.

Initially, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., aimed for a simple resolution condemning anti-Semitism without addressing Omar directly. But that strategy ignited pushback from some progressive members of the Democratic caucus, who pressed leadership for a measure that encompassed hatred against a number of minority groups. The House ultimately passed the resolution in a 407-23 vote.

At the time, Republicans criticized Democrats for the approach, arguing that a resolution lumped anti-Semitism in with other forms of hatred would deliver a weaker message.

Cruz’s measure was the most recent in a string of proposals from GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate this session geared to fighting anti-Semitism.

Rep. Gregory Steube, R-Fla., introduced a measure this month that would directly disapprove of “the anti-Semitic comments made by Representative Omar.” In January, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., who is Jewish, introduced a resolution with a group of other Republicans that would “reject anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred in the United States and the world” that specifically mentioned Omar.

Rep. Ron Wright, R-Texas, unveiled a resolution earlier this year that, in addition to condemning anti-Semitism, called on federal law enforcement to investigate all credible reports of hate crimes, incidents and threats against the Jewish community.

Meanwhile, the White House has used Omar’s comments as a cudgel to attack House Democrats, with Vice President Mike Pence slamming Democrats over the remarks in a speech at the American Israel Political Action Committee’s annual policy meeting on Monday.

“Anti-Semitism has no place in the Congress of the United States, and any member who slanders those who support the historic alliance between the United States and Israel with such rhetoric should not have a seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” Pence said of her spot on the panel.

“The [Democratic] party that has been the home of so many American Jews for so long today can no longer muster the votes to unequivocally condemn anti-Semitism,” he added.

President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly blasted Democrats for their reaction to Omar’s remarks and suggested that Jewish voters would soon flock to Republican candidates, recently tweeted a comment from a Fox News guest warning of political consequences for the opposing party over the issue.

“Jewish people are leaving the Democratic Party. We saw a lot of anti Israel policies start under the Obama Administration, and it got worsts & worse. There is anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party. They don’t care about Israel or the Jewish people.” Elizabeth Pipko, Jexodus,” Trump tweeted.

According to the American Jewish Population Project at Brandeis University, 54 percent of American Jews identify as Democrats and 14 percent identify as Republicans. Thirty-two percent said that they don’t identify with either party. A 2018 survey conducted by the Jewish advocacy organization AJC found that 51 percent of American Jews consider themselves Democrats and 16 percent consider themselves Republicans.

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Latino group launches “Run, Joaquín, Run” to get other Castro twin on the ballot

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By Suzanne Gamboa

AUSTIN — Texas Democrats are waiting for the news from U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro on whether they’ll have another competitive Senate race this year.

There is anticipation that he’ll soon announce whether he’ll take on longtime incumbent Sen. John Cornyn, the state’s senior senator, and with that anticipation is the question whether changed demographics and a Latino Democrat on the ballot will help break the Republican dominance of Texas’ statewide elected offices.

While the wait is on for the expected word that Castro is running, Latino Victory Fund has launched a “Run Joaquín, Run”campaign to push along his decision and build support among Latino voters.

The digital campaign was created to generate grassroots interest among Latinos in a potential Castro candidacy.

“There is no doubt that Sen. Cornyn is vulnerable and we are ready to build a grassroots army to recruit and support Joaquin Castro to run and win in 2020,” Melissa Mark Viverito, Latino Victory Fund interim president, said in a statement last week.

The fund backs Latino Democratic candidates.

Castro has been dropping suggestions that he may be ready to do run, as has his twin brother, 2020 presidential candidate Julián Castro.

A week ago, Castro sent a tweet to Cornyn with biting criticism for the senator. He asserted that Cornyn failed to call him back when he asked for him to support his bill.

The tweet was in response to comments by Cornyn to a San Antonio media outlet that had asked him about a possible challenge from Castro. Cornyn had said he didn’t know Castro very well.

Castro was elected to the U.S. House in 2012, moving from Texas’ Legislature to Congress while Barack Obama was still in the White House. But Republicans’ were in charge and Democrats could move forward little legislation as the minority party, a reality that frustrated Castro.

With Democrats newly in charge of the U.S. House Castro’s profile has risen. He heads the growing Congressional Hispanic Chamber as its chairman this year.

He has made himself better known recently by sponsoring the resolution to terminate the national emergency declared by President Donald Trump to bypass Congress and get the funding needed to build a wall on the southern border.

The House approved its resolution and the Senate approved a similar one but the measure is expected to be vetoed by Trump.

Several Republicans in the Senate joined Democrats in voting to end Trump’s emergency declaration.

But Cornyn and Texas’ other senator Ted Cruz, who narrowly defeated Democrat Beto O’Rourke in 2018 to keep his Senate seat, were not among them.

Cornyn already has close to $6 million for his campaign. His campaign solicitations had been focused on O’Rourke. They warned against a “Beto Texas” and asked for contributions to a Stop Beto Fund.

Event though O’Rourke is now a declared 2020 Democratic candidate for president, Cornyn’s solicitations continue to use him for fundraising, urging contributors to “Stand With Trump” and against an O’Rourke candidate who has said he thinks he can win Texas.

Cornyn already has made key hires: John Jackson, who led Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s campaign last year, is campaign manager and former Texas Republican Party chairman Steve Munisteri as a campaign adviser.

In Texas, about a third or to about 40 percent of Latinos who vote cast their ballot for Republicans, depending on the race. About 48 percent of Latinos who voted in Texas’ 2014 election backed Cornyn, according to exit polling, according to Cornyn’s campaign.

But in 2018, there were big increases in Latino turnout in heavily Latino counties, according to Latino Decisions, a firm that has done polling for Democrats. The increases are considered part of the reason the state saw Democrats win state and congressional seats and places on appeals courts.

Although he had almost 40 times as much money as his gubernatorial opponent Lupe Valdez, Abbott won 42 percent of the Latino vote – about what he has in past years, while 53 percent of Latinos in Texas voted for Valdez, according to Pew Research Center.

Still, Cornyn has been elected to three terms – which are six years for U.S. senators. Democrats are counting on his support for Trump to also help keep him from a fourth term.



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