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By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann
Five months into their majority, what do House Democrats have to show for it?
Not an infrastructure deal (the subject of today’s meeting with President Trump, which is unlikely to go anywhere, especially after Trump told Pelosi and Chuck Schumer that Congress should pass his U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal first).
Not any progress on health care, which was Democrats’ No. 1 priority in last year’s elections.
Not HR-1 — the campaign-finance and ethics bill that they passed in March, but which isn’t going anywhere in the Senate.
And the summer and fall is expected to be spent dealing with thorny issues like budget caps and raising the debt limit.
So Pelosi and House Democrats have to ask themselves: What does success look like heading in 2020 – beyond the presidential race, which is shaping up to be a 50-50 proposition?
And what’s the plan for 2019?
Is it triumphing over Trump in the courts?
Is it finding damaging information that could hurt Trump next year – a la how House Republicans Benghazi-ed Hillary Clinton in 2015?
Because one reason why House Democrats are growing restless – and increasingly talking about impeachment — is that they have little to show for their majority.
At least right now.
Biden or a Biden-slayer?
Unless your name is Joe Biden, no Democrat looks all that great in the early 2020 polling.
And, yes, it’s still really early.
But that early Biden strength is a potentially rewarding situation for the rest of the Dem field: Beating a strong Biden makes you a stronger candidate.
It would be akin to Barack Obama’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2008 — remember, she was far from a lightweight in that race.
In fact, Obama’s win over Clinton ultimately proved to be more difficult than his general-election triumph over John McCain.
So it sets up a potentially virtuous situation for Democrats: They could end up with Biden as their nominee, or they could end up with the man or woman who ultimately beats him.
Of course, that assumes Biden remains formidable and healthy over the next year. And it also assumes the Dem nomination doesn’t devolve into chaos (contested convention, mass protests, a party that’s unable to come together).
Because anything is possible in American politics…
Kentucky governor: It’s going to be Bevin versus Beshear
State Attorney General Andy Beshear won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Kentucky last night, and he’ll face incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin in the fall.
Beshear got 38 percent of the vote, while state House Minority Leader got 32 percent and former state Auditor Adam Edelen finished third at 28 percent. (It’s a reminder that going negative – like Edelen did – can have consequences with voters.)
Strikingly, Bevin won just 52 percent in his own GOP primary, with state Rep. Robert Goforth taking 39 percent of the vote.
And as we’ve said before, November’s election could be a canary in the coal mine for 2020.
A relatively unpopular Republican incumbent. A relatively strong economy. And a state with a considerable urban-versus-rural divide.
Tweet of the day
2020 Vision: Breaking down Beto’s town hall
NBC’s Garrett Haake reports on the highlights of Beto O’Rourke’s CNN town hall appearance last night.
- On impeachment, O’Rourke said it is time to begin, damn the political consequences.
- On abortion, he said any federal judge he nominates must understand that Roe v. Wade is settled law.
- And he defended two positions that sometimes don’t sit well with progressives — his support for Medicare For America versus Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All, and his past vote to lift a ban on oil exports.
On the campaign trail today
Pete Buttigieg visits New York, including participating in a 92nd St. Y event with Jonathan Capehart… And John Delaney stumps in Iowa.
Data Download: The number of the day is … 71 percent and 38 percent
Seventy-one percent and 38 percent.
That’s the share of American voters who say that the state of the economy is good or excellent (71 percent, the highest percentage in almost 18 years) and the share who say that they approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as president (38 percent, a typical but decidedly poor number for the commander-in-chief), according to a new Quinnipiac poll.
It’s a striking difference between the record high economic optimism and a presidential approval rating mired in the high 30s.
Asked specifically about Trump’s economic performance, 48 percent of voters say they approve, while 45 percent disapprove.
Still, 54 percent said they “definitely” would not vote for him in 2020.
The Lid: Pelosi and the Giant Impeach: Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we look at the numbers behind the impeachment debate.
ICYMI: New clips you shouldn’t miss
The Washington Post reports that a confidential draft IRS memo says the White House must turn over the president’s tax returns to Congress UNLESS he invokes executive privilege.
Today’s the day for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical school to release the findings of its investigation into a racist yearbook photo.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson misheard real estate term “REO” as cookie “OREO.”
Former Ohio State University students don’t think that Jim Jordan has been exonerated in the school’s molestation cover-up scandal.
Trump agenda: Riders on the (tweet)storm
Here’s Trump’s impeachment tweetstorm from this morning.
Trump is hiring Ken Cuccinelli for a senior DHS job. Here’s why that matters.
How exactly does the Trump administration plan to pay for its huge infrastructure plan?
2020: About last night
Here’s the Courier-Journal’s look ahead at the general election in KY-GOV.
And here are the results from that special election in Pennsylvania, where Republican Fred Keller easily won in a heavily red district.
North Korea is taking aim at Joe Biden.
NBC’s Benjy Sarlin asks: Do Democrats have TOO MANY new ideas?
Elizabeth Warren’s plans are built around a huge tax on the wealthy. But will the rich avoid it?
Bernie Sanders is exploring new ways to raise cash.
Meanwhile, Biden raised $2.2 million from two Florida fundraisers.
Kirsten Gillibrand is out with a new “Family Bill of Rights.”
Brexit a ‘huge opportunity’ for UK farmers to rid themselves of EU regulations – Tory MP
Diane Abbott promises to campaign for Remain to rid UK of ‘Brexit shambles’
Trump snubs John McCain during bill signing intended to honor him
WASHINGTON — Congress wanted to honor the ailing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. President Donald Trump did not.
In extended remarks during a visit to Fort Drum in upstate New York to sign the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 — this year’s version of an annual bill that sets defense policy — Trump chose not to mention the former prisoner of war and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman who is battling brain cancer. He even omitted McCain’s name when citing the title of the bill.
The two men have long been fierce critics of each other, with McCain calling Trump’s supporters “crazies” in 2015 and Trump retaliating by questioning whether McCain, who was subjected to torture in a Vietnamese prison camp, is really a “war hero” because “he was captured.”
The snub at Fort Drum, home to the combat aviation brigade of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, did not escape the notice of McCain’s allies.
“For those asking did I expect Trump to be an a—— today. No more than I expected it to be Monday,” Mark Salter, McCain’s longtime aide, wrote on Twitter.
McCain’s condition — dire enough that a recent HBO documentary on him was titled “John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls” — has not stopped Trump from deriding the Arizona senator at political rallies. Though Trump does not use his name, he tells crowds that he would have been able to repeal Obamacare if not for a thumbs-down sign from one senator — McCain.
The senator’s own statement included Trump’s name in the headline and in a preamble written by staff. But the words attributed to McCain did not.
“I’m very proud that the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 has been signed into law,” he said.
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