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Wake Up To Politics - October 10, 2018

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from the WUTP Delaware Bureau. It’s Wednesday, October 10, 2018. 27 days until Election Day 2018. 755 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

I'm writing to you today from Newark, Delaware, home of the University of Delaware Blue Hens. I'll be speaking at UD tonight, as part of their Center for Political Communication's "Midterm Matters" speaker series. The event is at 7:30pm and it's free and open to all: so if you're in the area, please come if you can! (Details here.)

Nikki Haley resigns as UN Ambassador

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, announced plans to resign by the end of the year on Tuesday. Haley, long seen as a Republican rising star, was one of the most prominent female officials in the Trump administration.

"She's done a fantastic job, and we've done a fantastic job together," Trump gushed at an Oval Office photo-op announcing Haley's departure, as the diplomat sat next to him. He added: "I just wanted to tell you that we will miss you. We'll be speaking all the time, but we will miss you nevertheless." Meanwhile, Haley thanked the president for "an honor of a lifetime."

Trump said that Haley told him "probably six months ago" that she would be stepping down from her post at the end of the year, but many top administration officials were reportedly surprised by Tuesday's announcement. According to CNN, both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton were not informed. According to the New York Times, the timing of Haley's announcement — which raised eyebrows, coming so soon before the midterm elections —​ "irked some West Wing aides" who felt it distracted from Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's installation.

Haley, who formed a close relationship with the president in the early days of his administration, has seen her influence wane in recent months as Pompeo and Bolton joined Trump's inner circle. According to the Washington Post, "Haley served almost as a shadow secretary of state during the first year of the administration, wielding more influence than the man who held the job, Rex Tillerson, and winning the confidence of President Trump with her strong defense of his policies at an institution filled with foreign officials opposed to his worldview." However, as Bolton and Pompeo "reclaimed policy and political ground that their predecessors ceded," Haley took on more of a supporting role.

Her tenure representing the Trump administration at the United Nations was at-times combative, telling fellow diplomats that she would "take names" of countries that opposed the U.S. agenda on issues such as defending Israel and countering Iran.

"It was a blessing to go into the UN with body armor every day and defend America," Haley said Tuesday. "I'll never truly step aside from fighting for our country. But I will tell you that I think it's time." Haley's announcement immediately sparked speculation about her future, although she told reporters in the Oval Office that she has no plans to run for president in the next election. "No, I'm not running for 2020," she said. "I can promise you what I'll be doing is campaigning for this one," pointing to the president.

"That's so good," said Trump, who has reportedly chafed at Haley's ambition at times.  

Prior to moving to New York to serve as ambassador, Haley served as Governor of South Carolina for six years. During the 2016 campaign, she was highly critical of then-candidate Trump, and their disagreements on Russian sanctions, refugee policies, and other issues came into the open during her tenure.

According to Politico, former Trump deputy national security adviser Dina Powell is "the top candidate" to succeed Haley. Powell served in the West Wing for the first year of the Trump administration; since moving back to New York earlier this year, she has returned to Goldman Sachs, where she was employed before joining the White House.

Trump told reporters on Air Force One that Powell was on a five-person shortlist for the position. While Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, has also been mentioned as a possibility, Trump signaled that he was not on the list: "I'd personally rather keep Ric where he is," he said.

Earlier Tuesday, the president responded to chatter that he would pick his daughter, Ivanka Trump, for the post. She "would be incredible," he said, but acknowledged the accusations of nepotism that would follow the appointment. "It is an honor to serve in the White House alongside so many great colleagues and I know that the President will nominate a formidable replacement for Ambassador Haley," the First Daughter, who is also a White House senior adviser, later tweeted. "That replacement will not be me."

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Elections Central

2018 Central: A new CNN poll found Democrats with a 13-point advantage in the generic ballot, with 54% of likely voters saying they support the Democratic candidate in their district and 41% backing the Republican.

--- According to the CNN poll, 62% of Democrats said they were "extremely or very enthusiastic to vote," compared to 52% of Republicans. The poll also revealed a widening gender gap, as 63% of women said they supported the Democratic candidate in their district to 33% of women who said they supported the Republican candidate.

--- A Politico/Morning Consult poll out this morning found Democrats held a 10-point lead in the generic ballot, 48% to 38%. 77% of Democrats in the poll said they were "very motivated" to vote in November, compared to 68% of Republicans.

--- An NBC/Marist poll found Republicans led in two hotly-contested Nevada races: Republican Sen. Dean Heller leads Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen among likely voters, 46% to 44%; while Republican gubernatorial nominee Adam Laxalt leads Democrat Steve Sisolak, 46% to 45%.

2020 Central: Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on Instagram today that he had re-registered as a member of the Democratic Party, further stoking speculation that he plans to run in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. Bloomberg had been a Democrat until he was elected Mayor as a Republican in 2001; he left the GOP in 2007, and has been an Independent since.

--- "Bernie Sanders will hit Iowa and South Carolina in 9-state midterm campaign blitz" (CNN)

--- "‘I don’t think he’s behind the eight ball this time around’: Biden cranks up his 2020 machine" (Politico)

--- "Democrats warily eye Avenatti’s flirtation with 2020 bid" (Associated Press)

White House schedule

POTUS: At 11:45am, as Hurricane Michael is expected to make landfall, President Trump meets with Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long.

At 12:45pm, he has lunch with Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

At 2pm, he participates in the signing ceremony for the Know the Lowest Price Act and the Patients Right to Know Drug Prices Act.

At 3:50pm, the president departs the White House for Erie, Pennsylvania, arriving at 5:20pm.

At 6:20pm, Trump participates in a roundtable with supporters in Erie. At 7pm, he holds a Make America Great Again rally.

Following the rally, the president will return to the White House.

VP: Vice President Mike Pence travels to Wisconsin today to headline two events for the state Republican Party and Gov. Scott Walker's re-election campaign, in Green Bay at 2:25pm and in Eau Claire at 5:50pm.

Congress schedule

Senate: The Senate convenes at 10am today. At 11:30am, the chamber will hold two votes: on passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), a House-passed bill authorizing water infrastructure projects, and on passage of a Democratic resolution to repeal the Trump administration rule expanding short-term health insurance plans, known as "junk" plans.

The chamber will recess from 12:30pm until 2:15pm for weekly caucus meetings. At 2:15pm, the Senate will hold a cloture vote on the nomination of Jeffrey Bossert Clark to be Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.

House: The House is on recess.

Today's Trivia

An old Wake Up To Politics feature makes a return...

After President Trump publicly mused about appointing his daughter Ivanka to be UN Ambassador, which U.S. president appointed their son/daughter to an ambassadorship — and what country were they sent to?

Send me your answer (the president and the country) to trivia@wakeuptopolitics.com by the end of the day today along with the city and state you are from... the first and last correct respondents will be named in tomorrow's newsletter!

*All times Eastern