Wednesday, October 19, 2016
0 Days until the Third Presidential Debate
20 Days until Election Day 2016 + my 15th birthday (Nov. 8)I'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!
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- Third Debate: Clinton's Final Obstacle, Trump's Final Opportunity Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump meet face-to-face tonight at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for their final debate before voters head to the polls in less than three weeks. Tonight's showdown is Trump's final opportunity to go after Clinton on a primetime stage, and Clinton's final obstacle to maintaining her lead going into the election.
- Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who is widely credited with Ronald Reagan's landslide victory in 1984 and now chairs Great America PAC, a top super PAC supporting Trump, said on The Laura Ingraham Show on Tuesday that Trump could only win if he "pulls a miracle comeback here, which would take a miracle at this point."
- To Rollins' point, every poll that has come out in the last week - and in the last few months - has shown Hillary Clinton in the lead, often by a comfortable margin. A Bloomberg poll out today gives her a 9-point advantage, polls released Monday and Tuesday show Clinton's lead varying from 1 point (Rasmussen) to 6 points (FOX News, NBC/SurveyMonkey) to 8 points (GWU/Battleground) to 9 points (CBS News) to 12 points (Monmouth). No presidential candidate has ever overcome such a large deficit in public polling this close to the election: according to FiveThirtyEight, early October polling has deviated from the final results by an average of 0.96%. In all but three elections since 1952, October polling was within five percentage points of the results: and Clinton's lead is, according to most polls, larger than five percentage points.
- However, if anyone on the political scene right now could stage such a comeback: it would be Donald Trump, who was often counted out by pundits as he announced his presidential run, only to win the Republican primary. As at the preceding two debates, it all comes down to which Donald Trump shows up.
- The Republican nominee barely strayed from his message on Monday and Tuesday, as he focused on one of his campaign's strongest selling points: the contrast between his outsider status and Clinton's years as a Washington insider. Trump has spent the week so far targeting corruption in Washington, promising to "drain the swamp" if elected.
- This new promise has come with new policy proposals: on Monday, he released a five-point plan to place restrictions on lobbying, including a five-year ban on lawmakers and executive branch officials becoming lobbyists; on Tuesday, he announced his support for a constitutional amendment imposing a six-year term limit for members of the House and a 12-year term limit for members of the Senate.
- "Decades of failure in Washington and decades of special interest dealing must and will come to an end," Trump declared at a Tuesday rally in Colorado, tying his candidate to the corruption by relying on new documents released by the FBI that have caused Republicans to accuse Clinton of making a "quid pro quo" agreement with the FBI to get one of the emails from her private server declassified (FBI and State Department officials deny such a deal was struck.)
- In addition, Trump released two new ads on Tuesday: "Deals," which targets Clinton's record on trade deals, and "Change," which indicates that only Trump could "change Washington."
- By all accounts, this "change" message is more effective than the conspiracy theories Trump has also been peddling in recent days, as he has claimed the election is "rigged" against him and even insinuated that Clinton was on drugs at the last debate: but it is impossible to know until tonight which Trump will appear on stage, a more kinder and gentler candidate with a message of change, or the more familiar, bombastic candidate. Trump's campaign has already announced that they are once again bringing guests to the debate hall intended to intimidate Clinton, like the women who accused her husband of sexual assault who attended the last debate: tonight, Trump is bringing President Obama's half-brother, Kenyan native Malik Obama, and Patricia Smith, the mother of a Benghazi victim. Smith spoke at the Republican National Convention in July, declaring that Clinton murdered her son and "should be in stripes."
- Clinton, also attempting to rattler her opponent, is countering with two anti-Trump billionaires: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, as well as Hewlett-Packard CEO and longtime Republican Meg Whitman.
- Trump is expected to personally attack Clinton, potentially invoking her health, her husband, and the emails from her campaign chairman released by WikiLeaks. To avoid losing her polling advantage, Clinton will likely keep her head down amid the attacks. With the second deabte already being called the harshest in presidential campaign history, Clinton will not want to share blame in making this one bitter and insult-filled as well. However, Clinton faces new questions tied to her trustworthiness in light of the WikiLeaks email, although she has likely prepared an answer for that light of attack in days of extensive practice for the debate.
- If Clinton can get through tonight, it is unlikely Trump will get the miracle his super PAC chairman referred to. However, a Trump victory in this debate has the potentially to shake up the entire election.
- The debate, which will run from 9pm to 10:30pm Eastern Time without commercial break, will be split into six segments of 15 minutes each. The segments will each start with a question, and then two minutes for each candidate to respond, and then will be completed as the moderator wishes. Tonight's moderator, Fox News' Chris Wallace, has announced the following six topics: Debts and entitlements, immigration, economy, Supreme Court, foreign hot spots, and fitness to be President.
- As much as the candidates, Wallace - the first Fox News anchor to ever moderate a general election debate - will also be closely watched, after promising not to "truth squad" the nominees but act more like a mere timekeeper. The topics he chose promise more specific policy discussions than at either previous debate; the open Supreme Court seat was barely mentioned until now, giving both candidates an opportunity to speak about the vacancy to a wider audience.
- How large that audience is remains to be seen: the first Trump vs. Clinton debate was seen by a record 84 million viewers, the second by 67 million. Many tuned out of the second debate after the bitter tone of its opening minutes, and whether the candidates (especially the less predictable Trump) emerge angry or restrained will be a key test again tonight, as the ugly 2016 presidential race draw to a close.
- Today on the Trail Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton have any public events today, as they prepare for their third and final debate at 9pm tonight.
- However, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), Trump's running mate, will hold a rally at La Plata County Fairgrounds in Durango, Colorado at 12pm - campaigning in the same state that Trump held two rallies in on Tuesday, showing a concerted effort by the ticket to overcome a deficit of eight percentage points (according to the RealClearPolitics polling average) and win Colorado's nine electoral votes.
- Meanwhile, Clinton's running mate Tim Kaine will be campaigning in two critical states today. The Virginia governor will headline a "canvass kick-of" event at a Clinton volunteer headquarters in Upper Arlington, Ohio at 10:15am. In addition, Kaine will hold "early vote rallies" at the Clark County Historical Society in Springfield, Ohio (12pm) and at the University of North Carolina in Asheville, North Carolina (5pm). According to the RCP polling average, Donald Trump currently leads in Ohio, by the slim margin by 0.7%, while Hillary Clinton has a slightly larger lead (2.7%) in North Carolina.
- The Clinton/Kaine ticket also has a number of surrogates spread across the map today: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders holds a rally for his former primary rival in Reno, Nevada today; Kaine's wife Anne Holton holds events in Outtumwa, Burlington, and Davenport, Iowa; and Clinton's daughter Chelsea headlines a "Get Out The Vote Rally" in Tempe, Arizona.
- Chelsea Clinton's event is especially interesting. Arizona is very much a tradtionally strong Republican state, having voted for the Democrat in only one presidential election since 1952 (interestingly, for Bill Clinton in 1996.) In addition, both John McCain and Mitt Romney won the state by about nine percentage points in 2008 and 2012, respectively - and every one of Arizona's fourteen statewide elected officials are Republican.
- Despite this, a number of Clinton surrogates (but notably not Clinton herself) have held events in Arizona recently. Tim Kaine campaigned in the state last week, and will return with Michelle Obama on Thursday; Bernie Sanders held a rally there on Tuesday. According to ABC News, the Clinton campaign is also increasing its six-figure ad buy in Arizona by $2 million. This compared to Trump's ghost operation in Arizona, which consists of just five staffers as well as $0 in broadcast TV or radio ads (although Trump has committed $15,000 for October mailers in Arizona, and $7,000 for November.) "Barring something unforeseen, Trump is going to lose Arizona, and you're still not seeing the type of activity you'd expect to see if he expects to save it," Republican strategist Matthew Benson, who served as former Arizona governor Jan Brewer's communications director, told NBC News.
- The Clinton effort in Arizona represents a larger expansion beyond the traditional battlegrounds and into other states that were once reliably red, including Georgia and Utah. Trump's lead in Arizona has shrunken to just 1%, according to RCP; the most recent polls in the state show the race tied or with a 1-point advantage for Clinton
- Smart Read The Cook Political Report's David Wasserman looks into Clinton's chances in GOP strongholds like Arizona in a New York Times opinion piece published Monday. "States like Ariona and Georgia may have a supporting role in a Clinton victory this year - if she carries either states, she will have already won in a landslide," Wasserman writes, noting that both states may be headed to "starring roles" in future cycles ("assuming America survives this election.")
White House Watch
- The President's Schedule President Obama must have stayed up late at the State Dinner last night: he has no events on his public schedule today.
- Vice President's Schedule Vice President Joe Biden will speak at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate in Boston today on his Cancer Moonshot initiative, an effort to "double the rate of progress in cancer research and treatment." Biden delivered the report of the Cancer Moonshot Task Report to the President on Tuesday, announcing the initiative's progress and strategy going forward.
- FLASHBACK Biden also spoke at the EMK Institute at its opening in March 2015, which was attended by Wake Up To Politics.
- Could Clinton win Texas? Clinton's campaign has been increasingly confident in recent days, expanding into red states like Utah, Georgia, and Arizona. A new poll even shows Clinton within the margin of error in Texas, with Trump taking 41% of the vote to Clinton's 38%.
- The Lone Star State has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1980, by an average of 15 percentage points. A Clinton victory in the state is still unlikely, but was the talk of many political watchers this week as polling showed her in striking distance.
- Clinton's Advertising Domination A review from Advertising Analytics reported in NBC News on Tuesday shows that Hillary Clinton and pro-Clinton groups have accounted for over 70% of all TV and radio advertisements this cycle.
- Clinton's campaign has spent over $133 million on advertising, according to the report, while super PACs supporting her have added $94 million.
- Trump has spent just $47 million on ads, with outside groups supporting him have spent just $36 million.
- No question today - but apologies to Dave Eckwert, who I failed to mention in yesterday's newsletter, although he correctly answered Monday's trivia question. Sorry Dave...good job!
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