Dems need to get specific

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On the roster: Dems need to get specific – I’ll Tell You What: Party like it’s your birthday – Putnam picks up key ally in Florida gov. race – Adelson gives $30 million after Ryan’s plea – And stay up there until ‘Game of Thrones’ comes back! 

Almost three-quarters of voters in a CBS News poll out this week said that Democrats have not adequately explained what they would do with control of Congress if they win it back this fall. 

Firstly, duh… Presumably none of the Republican respondents thought that Democrats were explaining themselves well. And a good number of Democrats are no doubt grouchy that their own personal policy demands are not being addressed by their party. 

But given the fact that a substantial number of independents – the same voters who are helping to fuel Democrats’ 9-point advantage in the generic ballot in this poll – are uncertain what the party is all about should give the Blue Team a moment of pause. 

Now, do not count us among those who believe that it is politically necessary for minority parties to offer affirmative issue platforms for a midterm election cycle. It may not be good for the republic, but you don’t need to run with an eye on governance. It can certainly be enough to campaign as a check on the party in power’s policies. 

But which ones? 

In the three most recent midterm shellackings delivered to the party of the president in the White House – 2010, 2006, 1994 – the opposition dialed in on a particular issue and stayed hard on it. In 2010 it was ObamaCare, in 2006 it was the Iraq war and in 1994 it was, at least primarily, a tax increase. 

When Republicans offered their own #resist movement in the first two years of the Obama presidency, the GOP shoved most of their chips on the president’s initially unpopular health insurance program. In 2010 other region-specific issues did get play in Republican attacks, but it was ObamaCare first, foremost and finally. 

We were reminded of this watching Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly stumble over himself talking about the Trump tax cuts ahead of the president’s visit to campaign against Donnelly today. Donnelly was complaining about what was in the package but then when asked if he would repeal the law he went belly up quicker than a barbeque stand at a PETA conference. 

Democrats hold a substantial structural advantage this year. Part of that is based on the general discomfort with President Trump as a person among suburban voters, particularly women. But in order to retake the House and keep the Senate narrowly balanced, it will be necessary for Democrats to talk about which policies they plan to stop or repeal. 

In this way, the modest legislative achievements of the Republican Congress actually work in the Red Team’s favor. There is no Republican health insurance plan, nor an immigration program, nor an education overhaul, nor energy reforms…

The hallmark of Republican control of Washington has actually been Trump’s use of executive authority to undo what his predecessor did by the same means. Much of the Trump presidency has been about paying off promises made in midterms eight years ago. 

The political messages that work best are usually specific, simple and easily repeated. If Democrats want to make the most of their opportunity, they had better identify for voters exactly what it is that they would undo or prevent and start pushing it hard.  

“How would it be possible to agree upon a rule of apportionment satisfactory to all? There is scarcely any that can be proposed which is entirely free from real objections.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 7

TIME OUT: FAR OUT “Astronomers have spotted a carbon-rich asteroid in the icy region beyond Neptune called the Kuiper Belt — the first such asteroid ever found exiled from the inner solar system. This asteroid, known as 2004 EW95, likely formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter but was soon hurled out into the Kuiper Belt, according to a statement released today (May 9) by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). This ancient, exiled rock from the solar system’s primordial days provides unprecedented evidence of what that early time was really like, researchers said in the statement. The early solar system was far more chaotic than it is today. Theoretical models predict that, during this time, objects were flung from the inner solar system to far-off distant orbits, according to the statement. These theories also dictate that the Kuiper Belt should contain objects like carbon-rich, or C-type, asteroids. … This finding is some of the best evidence thus far of the theorized early solar system activity.”

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Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 41.2 percent 
Average disapproval: 53.6 percent 
Net Score: -12.4 points
Change from one week ago: down 1.8 points 
[Average includes: CBS News: 40% approve – 55% disapprove; CNN: 44% approve – 51% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve – 52% disapprove; IBD: 38% approve – 56% disapprove; Pew Research Center: 42% approve – 54% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 41.8 percent
Democratic average: 48.8 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 7 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage up 0.2 points
[Average includes: CNN: 47% Dems – 43% GOP; CBS News: 50% Dems – 41% GOP; Pew Research Center: 48% Dems – 43% GOP; Monmouth University: 49% Dems – 41% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 48% Dems – 40% GOP.]

This week, Chris Stirewalt and Dana Perino discuss primary night in West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina. General Election matchups are set, Dana and Chris explain what it all means. Plus, Wednesday was a day of very special birthdays in the Perino and Stirewalt families. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

Orlando Sentinel: Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a fiery legislative leader whose political committee has spent more than $4.6 million ahead of an expected run for governor, won’t get in the race after all. Instead, Corcoran on Wednesday endorsed Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, setting up a one-on-one race in the gubernatorial GOP primary between Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Marineland.  ‘I didn’t think I had the resources to move forward,’ Corcoran said at a news conference. ‘And given the fact that 2018 is going to be a crucial election year, I think it’s important that we rally around, figure out who’s the best person to lead the state and to make sure that … the Governor’s Mansion stays in a true Republican conservative’s hands.’”

Politico: “Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has cut a $30 million check to the House GOP-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund, a massive cash infusion that top Republicans hope will alter the party’s electoral outlook six months before Election Day. The long-sought donation was sealed last week when, according to two senior Republicans, House Speaker Paul Ryan flew to Las Vegas to meet with the billionaire at his Venetian Hotel. Also at the meeting with Adelson was his wife, MiriamNorm Coleman, the former Minnesota senator who chairs the Republican Jewish Coalition; Corry Bliss, who oversees the super PAC; and Jake Kastan, Ryan’s No. 2 political aide. They laid out a case to Adelson about how crucial it is to protect the House.”

Trump junior wants to be face of ‘MAGA conservatism’ for midterms – Axios: “Donald Trump Jr. is preparing to dive into the 2018 midterm elections. He wants to use his influence within the Republican base to ‘expand our majority in the Senate and protect our majority in the House,’ said a source close to the president’s son. Expect Don Jr. to be raising money for Republican candidates and staging rallies. …  A source close to Don Jr. said he believes his brand of ‘MAGA conservatism’ — pro-gun, anti-media, anti-establishment — could make a difference in turning out the base in these states. “

Politico: “The White House and Justice Department leaders are racing to defuse an ugly confrontation with House Republicans over access to sensitive documents connected to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to four sources with knowledge of the discussions. In a late Tuesday phone call with top GOP lawmakers, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein offered to meet with key House members at the Justice Department on Thursday to discuss the issue. But they stopped short of promising full access to the material they’re requesting, the sources said. Kelly encouraged Rosenstein and the lawmakers – House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy – to work together to resolve disputes between DOJ and GOP investigators, according to sources familiar with the call. Kelly admonished both sides against messy public disputes that have ratcheted up tension between Rosenstein and Nunes to an untenable degree of severity.”

Details emerge on how Cohen hawked access to Trump – WaPo: “President Donald Trump had been sworn into office, and his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, saw a golden opportunity. …Cohen pitched potential clients on his close association with Trump, noting that he still was the president’s lawyer, according to associates. He showed photos of himself with Trump and mentioned how frequently they spoke, even asking people to share news articles describing him as the president’s ‘fixer.’ ‘I’m crushing it,’ he said, according to an associate who spoke to him in the summer of 2017. …investigators have scrutinized the intersection of Cohen’s work and the president’s interests – and how the activity flowed through Essential Consultants, a company Cohen formed in the fall of 2016 and used to pay hush money to an adult-film star who claimed she had an affair with Trump. Late last year, the special counsel sought information from two of the companies that hired Cohen, AT&T and Novartis, the companies said Wednesday.”

Internal watchdog looking for leak of Cohen financials – WaPo: The Treasury Department’s inspector general is investigating whether confidential banking information involving a company controlled by President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen was leaked, a spokesman said. Detailed claims about the company’s banking history were made public Tuesday by Michael Avenatti, an attorney for Stormy Daniels, the adult-film star who was paid $130,000 by Cohen’s company shortly before the 2016 election to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump.”

Pence: Mueller should ‘wrap it up’; denies knowledge of porno payola – AP: “Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday he believes it’s time for special counsel Robert Mueller to conclude his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and other potential misdeeds by those in the president’s orbit. ‘In the interests of the country, I think it’s time to wrap it up.’ Pence told NBC News following the release of three Americans held by North Korea. … Pence added: ‘I would very respectfully encourage the special counsel and his team to bring their work to completion.’ The vice president was pressed on the news about millions of dollars in payments from companies to Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen. Pence said that was a ‘private matter’ and ‘something I don’t have any knowledge about.’”

The Judge’s Ruling: Mueller’s tactics commonplace for feds – This week, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano asks if the rule of law will survive the clash between Trump and Mueller: “The practice of indicting a person for a matter utterly unrelated to the core of the government’s investigation in order to turn the indicted person into a government witness, though often repellant, is commonplace and has received approval by numerous Supreme Court opinions. Clearly, obtaining a guilty plea from retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser, for lying to FBI agents about the existence of a lawful telephone conversation and obtaining a guilty plea from Rick Gates, Manafort’s former business partner and deputy Trump campaign manager, for lying about who said what at a lawful meeting are parts of a plan to get these folks to give evidence or testimony about the president that prosecutors want to hear.” More here.

Dems getting ready for 2020 with debate rules, convention picks – NBC News

Trump may threaten farm bill over lack of food stamp crackdown – WSJ

Female donors’ clout rising – USA Today


“#BeBest” – Tweet from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer referencing first lady Melania Trump’s initiative seeking greater civility in social media in response to a tweet from President Trump belittling Schumer. 

“‘But don’t forget that the fundamental, inherent bias in American journalism is not political. It is the desire for conflict and copy.’ Unfortunately that is what we citizens want too– in this Era of Entertainment. The big question for 2020 is whether Trump would be more entertaining in a second term– or more fun to watch on The Trump News Network.” – John McNeill Lee, Walnut Creek, Calif. 

[Ed. note: Amen, Mr. Lee. Like politicians, journalists usually don’t do the wrong things because they are unpopular. Chasing clicks, just like chasing votes, is corrosive to individuals and institutions.]

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AND STAY UP THERE UNTIL ‘GAME OF THRONES’ COMES BACK! “A Ridgewood woman embroiled in a dispute with a cable company worker climbed inside the man’s Optimum truck and turned off the power to the utility bucket, leaving the worker stranded in mid-air, police said. The woman, who was not identified, then ‘removed utility property from the truck and walked away,’ Police Capt. William Amoruso said in a statement. Police were called Monday to the intersection of East Ridgewood Avenue and South Pleasant Avenue after receiving a call about a verbal dispute. Officers found the utility worker stranded in the bucket, Amoruso said. Police officers patrolling the area found the woman, arrested her and took her to police headquarters, Amoruso said. She was charged with false imprisonment, harassment, disorderly conduct and criminal trespass and released on a summons to appear in court. Police did not say why the woman was upset with the utility worker.”

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.