1. GOP’s intraparty gun debate
The debate over gun safety has gone virtually nowhere in Congress since two mass shootings in August again galvanized public opinion on the issue. Republicans say they’re waiting for President Donald Trump to tell them what he’d be willing to sign — but The Washington Post’s Seung Min Kim said in the meantime, there actually have been signs of movement in the GOP.
“There is some discussion among Republican senators who either weren’t around for the last major gun debate in 2013, or some who have actually changed their minds on the issue,” Kim said. “One of them is Lindsey Graham. He voted against that expanded background checks measure back then, and he now says he’s open to it with revisions.”
Kim said the party’s 2012 standard-bearer is also on board.
“I had an interesting conversation with Mitt Romney, now a senator from Utah,” Kim said. “He told me that he’s philosophically in line, but he’s also worried about the impact on people in rural states. But obviously it doesn’t matter at the end of the day without that seal of approval from the President.”
2. Democrats rally around GM workers
Nearly 50,000 GM workers have been on strike for almost a week now, and the Associated Press’ Julie Pace reports that Democratic presidential candidates are looking for ways to rally around the union members.
“Elizabeth Warren is headed there today, Bernie Sanders is expected later this week,” Pace said. “The strike was prompted in part by GM plans to close some American plants — and Democrats see this as a prime opportunity in a politically important state like Michigan to hammer Trump over what they say are his misleading and broken promises to American workers.”
Because of the impact on auto parts suppliers, Moody’s Analytics says a prolonged strike could end up costing 300,000 jobs.
“It’s quite a compelling argument headed into a reelection. And it is notable that the President has not spoken out forcefully in favor of these workers. He’s said that the dispute between the auto workers and General Motors is ‘sad,’ ” Pace said.
3. Trump preps for an opponent
The President is already previewing his attack lines against his most likely Democratic opponents, people like Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur says he’s struck by how Trump is criticizing his rivals for the same things of which he has been accused.
“He’ll go after Joe Biden as old and losing his grip, he’ll go after Elizabeth Warren on the Native-American issue,” Kapur said. “What’s striking to me is that here is a President who refuses to let his own age, his own verbal blunders, his own misrepresentations of his past stop him from using the same issues against a Democratic opponent. It’s a special kind of shamelessness as political strategy — and it’s worked for him in the past.”
4. Trump’s Florida shake-up
Trump won the state of Florida in 2016 by just a single percentage point — and it’s a state he must win again in any scenario for winning the Electoral College.
Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender said he’s keeping his eye on a shake-up in the President’s reelection team in the Sunshine State.
“President Trump parted ways with his top strategist in Florida, Susie Wiles,” Bender said. “She got crossways with Gov. Ron DeSantis — never a good thing. Rarely does one person or one thing make a difference in an election. But Wiles has been a central figure in some of the Republican Party’s biggest victories in Florida for the past decade.”
Wiles worked not just for Trump, but also for DeSantis in 2018 and Rick Scott in 2010.
“These were all victories within a point or two,” Bender said. “And Florida is definitely a must-win for Trump.”
5. A bipartisan win on trade?
And from CNN chief national correspondent John King:
Big, bipartisan achievements are hard to come by in today’s Washington, but be on the lookout for a potential November surprise.
Early November, to be more precise, is when the Trump administration trade team is hoping Speaker Nancy Pelosi gives the go-ahead for House action on USMCA — the trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Team Trump initially hoped to fast track USMCA, but its plans to get it through the House before the August recess fizzled because Pelosi and other Democrats demanded changes to labor and environmental standards in the deal, among other things.
Now, the administration team — led by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer — is adopting a go-slow approach, recognizing it needs the Speaker on board if the trade deal is to have a prayer in the House. Senate passage is viewed as a certainty.
Pelosi has named a small group of lawmakers to work with the administration, and sources familiar with the discussions report slow but steady progress in answering some of the Democrats’ concerns. There is some grumbling among Democrats not directly involved, as Politico detailed this past week. But Pelosi believes that if her working group signs off on a USMCA compromise, that she and its members will be able to sell it to other Democrats who are open to supporting it.
Those working with the administration team trying to win over House Democrats are of the view the less President Trump weighs in the better, so there was a quick flash of jitters when the issue came up Friday at a White House news conference. The President, though, was anything but confrontational.
He brought up his goal of passing USMCA while answering a question about the difficult China trade standoff.
“I do think signing USMCA on a bipartisan basis with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and everybody else — very bipartisan — I think that’s very important for our country,” the President said. “And I would certainly be willing to say that’s a bipartisan deal.”