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Wake Up To Politics - October 20, 2015

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015
385 Days until Election Day 2016
104 Days until the Iowa Caucuses
25 Days until the Next Democratic Debate
8 Days Until the Next Republican DebateIt's Tuesday, October 20, 2015, 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!!!
To send me questions, comments, tips, new subscribers, and more: email me at wakeuptopolitics@gmail.com. To learn more about WUTP and subscribe, visit the site: wakeuptopolitics.com, or like me on Twitter and Facebook. More ways to engage with WUTP at the bottom.


  • OBAMA'S DAY: President meets with Secretaries of State, Defense
  • BIDEN WATCH: VP mulls presidential bid, honors Walter Mondale
  • WEBB PRESSER: Jim Webb may run for President as Independent
  • CRIST FOR CONGRESS: Former Florida governor to announce congressional bid
  • TODAY IN CONGRESS: Senate votes on "sanctuary cities"; House GOP huddles on debt limit, Speaker debacleAND MORE!

White House Watch

  • The President’s Schedule It’s a quiet day for President Obama: no public events scheduled, just meetings.
  • At 12:30pm, Obama will have lunch with Vice President Joe Biden in the White House Private Dining Room.
  • At 3pm, the President will return to the Oval Office for a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry.
  • At 4:45pm, he sits down with Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.
  • In these meetings with his top foreign policy advisors in the Cabinet (Kerry and Carter), Obama is expected to discuss ISIS, Russian activity in Syria, and other issues.
  • The Vice President’s Schedule Vice President Joe Biden spends the day honoring his predecessor Walter Mondale, who served as Vice President under Jimmy Carter and briefly served in the Senate with Biden.
  • At 9:15am, Vice President Biden will speak at the “Walter Mondale: Living Legacy forum at George Washington University, which is co-hosting the forum (and gala tonight) with the University of Minnesota, Mondale’s alma mater (where he received his B.A. and law degree; now his papers are held there, and he is the namesake of the university’s law school building and hockey team, the “Fighting Mondales”).
  • The symposium will include panels on the domestic and foreign policy affairs key to the Mondale Vice Presidency, and other topics prominent in Mondale’s Senate career, such as national security, the U.S. Constitution, and civil rights. The panel Biden participates in is “The Mondale Vice Presidency and Its Legacy”; other panelists include Carter Administration deputy national security advisor David Aaron, historian Taylor Branch, Carter Administration deputy chief of staff Landon Butler, former Obama Administration national security advisor Tom Donilon, Clinton Administration deputy Secretary Treasury Stuart Eizenstat, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Mondale’s former chief of staff Richard Moe, Children’s Defense Fund president Marian Edelman, and Carter Administration ambassador to the UN Andrew Young.
  • At 5pm, Biden will host a reception for Mondale at the Naval Observatory, the Vice Presidential residence first used by the Mondale family.
  • Finally, at 7:45pm, the Vice President will speak at the Four Seasons Hotel gala in Mondale’s honor, where Mondale himself will speak, as will former President Jimmy Carter, and Minnesota’s governor Mark Dayton and two U.S. Senators, Al Franken (D) and Amy Klobuchar (D).
  • In addition, Vice President Biden will spend time at the White House this afternoon, sitting in on Obama’s meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry and having lunch with President Obama. Obama and Biden have lunch together every Tuesday, but this one will come with added intrigue, as speculation over Biden’s potential presidential campaign is rampant.
  • A number of news agencies have reported that Biden will make his presidential announcement as early as today; the Vice President’s decision is reportedly leaning towards a “yes”.
  • How successful such a bid will be is anyone’s guess…but just because Biden is Vice President does not mean he is a sure bet for the top job. Only five sitting/former Vice Presidents were elected President (out of 47, not counting those who ascended to the office through death/resignation), although many have tried. For proof, Biden need only talk to Walter Mondale, a predecessor of his he spends much of the day with, whose 1984 presidential campaign was defeated in a landslide: winning only his home state of Minnesota.

2016 Central

  • Jim Webb Holds Press Conference, Independent Bid Possible Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb has spent the past 3+ months running a longshot bid for President, which has suffered from poor funding, low poll support (between 0-2%), and lack of attention from the media.
  • His biggest spotlight came at the Democratic debate last week, where he spent most of his dismal 15 minutes of talking time complaining about the dismal amount he was allowed to talk, and puzzling Americans by suggesting he killed an enemy soldier in Vietnam.
  • All in all, Webb has found the Democratic field dominated by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, with no room for a former centrist senator to catch on. In response, the Virginian holds a 1pm press conference today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to “discuss his candidacy, the campaign and his views of the political parties in the current election cycle,” according to an email from his campaign with the headline, “Jim Webb to Consider Independent Run”.
  • If Webb announces plans to run for President as an Independent instead of as a Democrat at today’s press conference, it is unlikely he will gain all that more traction. On paper, Webb’s independent appeal makes sense: he has a diverse résumé, having served in the Ronald Reagan administration as U.S. Secretary of the Navy and Assistant Secretary of Defense, and as a Democratic U.S. Senator. Webb is also a Vietnam war hero, Emmy Award-winning journalist, and author of ten books.
  • However, that is just on paper. On a television screen, Webb does not come off as appealing, and his strange remarks from the debate were widely noted. The presidential candidate also said at the debate, “I believe that I am where the Democratic Party traditionally has been. The Democratic Party, and the reason I’ve decided to run as a Democrat, has been the party that gives people who otherwise have no voice in the corridors of power a voice.”
  • Perhaps he has given up on that quest, and will instead attempt to attract the voiceless moderates from both parties in an independent bid. More aligned with Republicans on energy, same-sex marriage, abortion, and gun rights; Webb is also an economic populist and known for his longtime opposition to the Iraq War.
  • While unknown across the country, Webb has large name recognition is his home state of Virginia, which also happens to be a key swing state. If he runs as an independent and is able to steal white, lower-income voters in the state from the Democratic Party – Jim Webb may yet effect this election, not as a winner, but possibly as a spoiler.
  • Webb in SNL If Jim Webb’s Democratic presidential candidacy has given us one thing: it is a hilarious Saturday Night Live sketch. The show’s cold open Saturday parodied the Democratic debate, and Alec Baldwin played Jim Webb perfectly, as Larry David did Bernie Sanders. Worth a watch for sure.
  • Christ Announces Congressional Bid Former Gov. Charlie Crist (D-FL) holds a press conference in St. Petersburg today, where he makes a “major announcement”. At the event, Crist is expected to announce a campaign for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.
  • Crist’s congressional bid will be as a Democrat, although his membership in the party is only three years old: he served as a Florida governor as a Republican, before becoming an Independent to run for Senate in 2010. In 2012, Crist endorsed Obama’s re-election and became a Democrat. In 2014, Crist ran for governor again (this time as a Democrat), losing by 1%.
  • In short: Crist has switched parties twice and last two statewide races in the past five years. Now, he’s setting his sights on a smaller office, but a much more winnable one. Florida’s congressional lines are being challenged in the state’s Supreme Court, but the 13th district is expected to become favorable to Democrats, and will now be based in St. Petersburg, made up mostly of black, Democratic voters.
  • Currently held by Republican David Jolly, vacating the seat to run for U.S. Senate, the race is seen as a prime pick-up opportunity for Democrats. Crist’s opposition in the Democratic primary (where he will likely receive support from party leaders) is Eric Lynn, who served as Jewish liaison for then-Senator Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and later as a Middle East advisor in the Obama Administration. The only Republican candidate in the race is former St. Petersburg mayor Rick Baker.

Capitol Hill News

  • Both houses of Congress return from a week-long recess today:
  • Today in the Senate The upper chamber holds two roll call votes today: one, at 11am, on Ann Donnelly’s nomination to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of New York. Donnelly, a New York state judge, was first nominated for the position in November 2014, 11 months ago.
  • The second roll call, at 2:15pm, is a procedural vote on the Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act, which would block federal funds going to “sanctuary cities,” or “localities that refuse to turn over to federal law enforcement immigrants who are in the country illegally so they can be deported,” according to CNN.
  • The bill also imposes mandatory minimum jail sentences of five years for those convicted of a felony after returning to America illegally or who have been convicted of illegally entering America at least twice; it requires 60 “yea” votes to advance in today’s vote, an barrier the measure is unlikely to cross with wide Democratic opposition.
  • The “sanctuary cities” issue rose to national prominence in July after a San Francisco illegal immigrant, a seven-time convicted felon and five-time deportee, murdered a 32-year-old and was then released. Soon after, the issue became central to the presidential race, and a key talking point of Donald Trump (in a floor speech Monday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called this measure the “Donald Trump Act”).
  • Today in the House As the lower chamber returns from recess today, the House Republican Conference holds a special 7pm meeting to “discuss the October agenda” tonight, in addition to the scheduled House GOP meeting Wednesday morning.
  • Why is the “October agenda” so important it is worth holding an extra meeting for? This month, the House faces issues such as repealing Obamacare, defunding Planned Parenthood, negotiating ahead of a December 11 shutdown deadline. Plus, the chamber has just 10 legislative days before the debt limit is reached: if it is not raised by then, the United States defaults on its debt.
  • And then, of course, there is the *elephant* in the room: Paul Ryan. The full House of Representative is set to vote on a replacement for retiring Speaker John Boehner on October 29, but a meeting for Republicans to choose their nominee is still unscheduled.
  • All eyes are on Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, who is seen as the only Speaker candidate who could unite the fractured Republican Party. The only problem: despite calls from all corners of his party, Ryan has yet to announce a Speaker bid.
  • With just over a week before the lower chamber votes on its new Speaker, it is crunch time for House Republicans: either Ryan runs (and the party unites behind him), or the race will turn into a free-for-all with no clear frontrunner.
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For more on Wake Up To Politics, listen to Gabe on NPR's "Talk of the Nation, the Political Junkie podcast, and St. Louis Public Radio; watch Gabe on MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki, and read about Gabe in Politico, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Globe, and the St. Louis Jewish Light