James Hohmann: “Castro follows in the footsteps of Eric Swalwell, who ripped into Biden and told him to ‘pass the torch’ during the first debate only to get nowhere. The California congressman dropped out days later. Castro certainly won’t. This isn’t fatal. But the exchange illustrated Biden’s underappreciated strengths. While he’s widely perceived as having a tenuous lead in the early polls, Biden’s support has thus far proven remarkably durable. At the same time, however, Castro broached an issue that is of genuine concern among many Democratic leaders and may have foreshadowed what’s to come as the field winnows and lower-performing candidates become desperate to break through.”
Jonathan Bernstein: “Trump is, as political scientists like myself and Matt Glassman have been saying for some time, a very weak president. Congressional Republicans basically ignore his policy ideas. He loses battles to the executive-branch bureaucracy all the time. He’s been reduced to hiring flunkies and family members so he can get his way within the White House, and even they don’t seem to listen to him half the time. For those familiar with Richard Neustadt’s study of the presidency, this is no surprise: Trump is unpopular and has a poor professional reputation, so he’s not going to have very much influence.”
“What this means is that the political system is basically working. It’s imposing serious consequences on the president for doing a bad job. Refusing to respect the rules of the office is one of the ways that presidents can harm their reputations. And Trump’s unpopular Twitter persona and generally unpresidential behavior are partly why his approval rating is some 15 percentage points below where it would be based only on the economy and other fundamentals. Presidents normally care desperately about power, and Trump is squandering his.”
“The only problem is that he doesn’t realize it. We can’t know what he really thinks, but he seems to believe he’s wildly popular despite evidence to the contrary. As for his reputation? Again, we can’t know what’s in his head. But based on his public statements, he seems to think that what he’s doing is working – and if anything isn’t working, it has nothing to do with him.”
President Trump knocked light bulb efficiency standards during a House Republican retreat, The Hill reports.
The president quipped that light bulbs that the Obama administration “forced” Americans to use were “no good.”
Said Trump: “The bulb that we’re being forced to use, number one, to me most importantly, the light’s no good. I always look orange.”
“Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”
— Beto O’Rourke
“I’ve actually never met anybody who likes their health insurance company.”
— Elizabeth Warren
“In some of the most conservative, rural areas of Iowa, I have seen communities that embraced immigration grow.”
— Pete Buttigieg
A new Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds that a strong majority of Americans — about 8 in 10 — say that human activity is fueling climate change, and roughly half believe action is urgently needed within the next decade if humanity is to avert its worst effects. Nearly 4 in 10 now say climate change is a “crisis,” up from less than a quarter five years ago.
However, two-thirds say President Trump is doing too little to tackle the problem.
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) “returned to his beloved Senate this week for the first time since announcing his retirement armed with a secret plan,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
“The three-term Republican, who over two decades on Capitol Hill has honed a reputation as an affable dealmaker, is determined to pull off one last major bipartisan policy coup before his Dec. 31 departure date. On which thorny policy issue, he refused to say.”
Said Isakson: “I’m getting close to something I can tell you about, that I’ve been working on for some time. I’m not quite there yet.”
“Beto O’Rourke early Friday morning characterized an incendiary tweet from a Texas state representative as ‘a death threat’ against him, and charged that the Republican lawmaker should be stripped of his assault weapon,” Politico reports.
After O’Rourke’s campaign tweeted, “Hell yes, we’re gonna take your AR-15,” after last night’s debate, Briscoe Cain (R) — who represents the state’s House District 128, east of Houston — wrote online: “My AR is ready for you Robert Francis.”
Julián Castro told CNN that his criticism of Joe Biden and his health care policy during Thursday’s Democratic debate was not personal and denied that he was attacking the former vice president’s memory.
Said Castro: “I wouldn’t do it differently. That was not a personal attack. This was about a disagreement over what the vice president said regarding health care policy.”
“House Republicans were hoping to have their spirits lifted at this year’s annual retreat, which comes following a bruising midterm election and recent wave of GOP retirements. And President Donald Trump did not disappoint,” Politico reports.
“He slammed his 2020 Democratic rivals, complained about energy-saving light bulbs and plastic straws, trumpeted GOP accomplishments, celebrated a recent pair of special election wins and joked that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is ‘just like a cow, he’s just smaller.'”
“The rambling, 68-minute speech – which alternated between teleprompter lines and a free-flowing stream of jabs – served as counter-programming to the Democratic debates, which were taking place at the same time halfway across the nation. Trump was even scheduled to speak an hour earlier than he did — a delay that allowed him to start just as Democratic presidential candidates were taking the stage in Houston.”
“And at times, it felt like a campaign rally, with Trump even ending with his signature campaign song: ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want.'”
John Harris: “Biden’s previous uneven performances didn’t dislodge him atop the race, and so caution is justified in predicting bleeding wounds from this one. Even so, discursive answers on substantive issues like deportation of undocumented immigrants and Afghanistan, an oddly dated reference to a ‘record player,’ disrespectful digs and patronizing swipes from rivals, all raise the question: Can he withstand four more months of this before actual Democratic voting begins?”
Dan Balz: “Biden did not dominate from start to finish and did not make it through the evening mistake free. But on balance this was the kind of evening he needed, after two previous debates in which he drew mixed to negative reviews, and after uneven performances at Democratic gatherings and along the campaign trail.”
The Nation: “Jorge Ramos delivered a master class in how to make a presidential debate meaningful as the Democratic contenders clashed in Houston Thursday night. The Univision anchor asked tough questions and got unexpected, revealing, and instructive answers from presidential candidates whom he pushed beyond their comfort zones with savvy inquiries about fires in the Amazon, veganism, and socialism.”
Sen. Ted. Cruz (R-TX) told the Christian Science Monitor that he would take another crack at the White House one day.
Said Cruz: “Look, I hope to run again. We came very, very close in 2016. And it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.”
Politico: “The tally represents the preliminary results of an Air Force review launched after Politico reported last week that an Air National Guard crew stayed at Turnberry in March. Congressional Democrats have also been investigating military stays at the property, but have yet to receive any information from the Pentagon.”
Politico: “At a mid-August fundraiser in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Ivanka Trump was asked to name the personality traits she inherited most from her parents. Without much of a pause, Trump told the crowd of roughly 120 high-end donors that her mother gave her an example of how to be a powerful, successful woman.”
“And her father? He passed onto her his moral compass, she said, according to two event attendees. The exchange was part of a broader conversation about Ivanka Trump’s life in Washington and the White House during a swanky retreat organized by Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in the Wyoming mountains. Her appearance signaled an informal effort by the Trump campaign, family and top aides to woo donors this election cycle by sharing intimate, colorful details about this atypical White House.”
Reuters: “The Trump administration is moving forward with a plan to revoke California’s authority to set its own vehicle greenhouse gas standards and declare that states are pre-empted from setting their own vehicle rules.”
“President Donald Trump met with senior officials on Thursday at the White House to discuss the administration’s plan to divide its August 2018 proposal to rollback Obama era standards through 2025 and revoke California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act to set state requirements for vehicles.”
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Ten Democratic presidential candidates will debate tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ABC and Univision.
For the first time, there will be only one night of debating and all the major candidates will be on the same stage.
Leave your reactions in the comments.
“I make all the decisions, and they don’t have to work.”
— President Trump, quoted by CNN, on why working for him is easy.