I am currently writing this at noon on Tuesday. The internet connectivity on St. John USVI is still basically non-existent, which is where I am during this week of vacation. I still wanted to write these up because it is how I stay connected and process the news. But that means I have to do it quickly at this bar Aqua Bistro that has good WiFi. So the Open Threads are going to be bare bones (as you may have noticed yesterday) and also a little behind late night breaking events (like last night’s election in Ohio).
Architects Newspaper: “One of the most dangerous construction-related carcinogens is now legally allowed back into U.S. manufacturing under a new rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On June 1, the EPA authorized a ‘SNUR’ (Significant New Use Rule) which allows new products containing asbestos to be created on a case-by-case basis.”
“According to environmental advocates, this new rule gives chemical companies the upper hand in creating new uses for such harmful products in the United States.”
Peter Enns, Jonathon Schuldt and Adrienne Scott: “The key to our analysis was to divide Republicans into three groups: those who say they identify strongly with the Republican Party; those who identify as Republicans but not strongly; and those who call themselves independents but say they lean toward the Republican Party. These distinctions, often obscured in media coverage, are important because research shows that the strength of a voter’s partisan identity has an important effect on their political attitudes.”
“Among strong Republicans, Trump’s overall approval rating is 93%, with 78% ‘strongly’ approving of the president. The problem for Trump, however, is that these voters make up less than half of the Republican electorate — and 18% of likely voters.”
“Among the larger number of Republicans who identify less strongly with their party, Trump is much less popular. For example, Trump’s overall approval rating among not-so-strong Republicans is 72%, with 38% saying they strongly approve. Thirty-four percent say they only ‘somewhat’ approve of Trump. Those numbers are similar among independent-leaning Republicans.”
“To be sure, having reservations about the president doesn’t mean Republican voters will abandon their party and vote for Democrats in the autumn. But it does raise the question of how much Republican congressional candidates can count on those who ‘somewhat approve’ of Trump.”
Troy Balderson (R) appeared to denigrate Franklin County — home of Columbus, and many OH-12 voters, who are probably more likely to vote Democratic — in his final campaign stop of Monday night, saying the district doesn’t want a representative from there, NBC News reports.
“On the one hand, this certainly seems like a good way for Balderson to alienate potential voters in a densely-populated part of the district. But it also says something about conservatives’ strategy in the Trump era, as diverse cities and suburbs become more and more politically distant from Trump country.”
Ron Brownstein: “The party is now consciously trading suburbs for small towns: the country club for the country. It’s the famous Kinsley gaffe of saying what you really mean: we don’t consider those voters who we are anymore.”
First Read: “Trump’s been on a primary winning streak lately, but he’s got less of a strong track record of endorsing in elections that pit Republicans against Democrats (See: Roy Moore, Ed Gillespie and Rick Saccone.) A Balderson loss would be another black eye for Trump, particularly since the president appeared at a rally for him over the weekend. In primary races, Trump has endorsed John James in the Michigan Senate race, Bill Schuette in the Michigan governors’ race, and — just yesterday — Kris Kobach in the Kansas gubernatorial primary.”
Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) told the Washington Examiner that he believes Republican lawmakers made a “big mistake” by pushing to repeal the Affordable Care Act as their first big legislative move at the outset of the Trump administration.
Said Heller: “I don’t think we should have done it first. I think we should have done the economy first. We needed to get some wins. We should have done transportation and the economy first, and then done healthcare after. I think you would have seen a very different result on healthcare.”
President Trump “has headlined 29 fundraisers since he was sworn into office, raising at least $135 million — but unlike the five previous presidents, nearly half of the events benefited himself, instead of just his party or candidates,” according to an analysis by McClatchy.
“Trump is the first U.S. president since at least the 1970s to raise money for his own re-election campaign during the first two years of his term when the political world’s attention is usually focused on midterm elections for Congress.”
Jonathan Last: “It has become an article of faith among Republicans that Trump will be very lucky if the Democrats nominate a radical progressive—or maybe even a socialist—to challenge him in 2020. That would assure his re-election, the thinking goes, because Trump won by converting disillusioned working-class white Obama voters in the Rust Belt precisely because the Democrats were already too far out of the mainstream. If Democrats double-down on their progressivism, then Trump might be able to win with two pair, instead of having to draw to an inside straight.”
“On the one hand, that makes a certain kind of sense. On the other hand, it’s hard to square this belief with the argument that conservatives have been making for 40 years: that the key to victory is bold colors, not pale pastels. Because if the bold colors strategy could work for Republicans, why couldn’t it work for Democrats, too?”
“Think about it this way: In the wake of the 2012 election, Republicans spent a lot of time on their own autopsy and came away with the conclusion that if they were going to be competitive again at the national level, they had to moderate their stance on immigration. Instead, the party nominated the biggest immigration extremist since Levi Boone. And he won.”
A new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll finds “there’s an almost perfect match between President Trump’s approval ratings on immigration — including his overall policies and his proposed border wall — and his job approval rating.”
“The fact that his job approval rating (44%) is so closely aligned with his immigration numbers suggests that Trump’s immigration policies play a huge role in how the public sees his presidency. If they’re with him on immigration, they’re with him on everything. And his wall of defense is rural voters — the only one of the five key voter groups that’s sticking with him.”
“The Trump administration is expected to issue a proposal in coming weeks that would make it harder for legal immigrants to become citizens or get green cards if they have ever used a range of popular public welfare programs, including Obamacare,” four sources with knowledge of the plan told NBC News.
“The move, which would not need Congressional approval, is part of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller’s plan to limit the number of migrants who obtain legal status in the U.S. each year.”
Forbes: “A multimillion-dollar lawsuit has been quietly making its way through the New York State court system over the last three years, pitting a private equity manager named David Storper against his former boss: Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. The pair worked side by side for more than a decade, eventually at the firm, WL Ross & Co.—where, Storper later alleged, Ross stole his interests in a private equity fund, transferred them to himself, then tried to cover it up with bogus paperwork. Two weeks ago, just before the start of a trial with $4 million on the line, Ross and Storper agreed to a confidential settlement, whose existence has never been reported and whose terms remain secret.”
”It is difficult to imagine the possibility that a man like Ross, who Forbes estimates is worth some $700 million, might steal a few million from one of his business partners. Unless you have heard enough stories about Ross.”
Rudy Giuliani told the Washington Post that Trump’s legal team is planning to send a letter to special counsel Robert Mueller this week that will largely rebuff Mueller’s latest offer of a presidential interview that would include questions about possible obstruction of justice.
Said Giualiani: “‘We have a real reluctance about allowing any questions about obstruction.”
Playbook: “Something incredibly predictable is beginning to happen ahead of the Ohio election tonight: Republicans are dumping on Troy Balderson, their candidate. They say he didn’t raise enough money, he had high negatives and was kind of a dud.”
“Why are they doing this? Because this race is tight. Anything short of a five- to seven-point win for Balderson over Danny O’Connor is an embarrassment, and could portend disaster for the GOP. And Republicans think, if they win, they’re going to just eke it out.”
”It almost doesn’t matter who wins tonight. If the political climate allows Democrats to make R+7 districts competitive, the battlefield in November is something approaching 80 seats.”
New York Times: “Ryan announced in April that he would not be seeking re-election, ending a 20-year run in Congress that, for most of it, seemed to be on a straight-up trajectory. Ryan’s official reason for leaving was that his ‘family clock was ticking’ and he no longer wanted to be a ‘weekend dad.’ But it’s easy to suspect otherwise, and not just because that is a clichéd excuse.”
“Ambitious 48-year-old politicians at the peak of their powers don’t suddenly just decide to quit because they’ve discovered that their teenage children are growing up fast back in Wisconsin. Ryan should, by rights, be riding out of town at the pinnacle of his starlit Washington career. Yet he remains a distinctly awkward match to a moment — and president — that seem certain to define much of his legacy.”
“Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 2013 asserted that it’s a ‘traditional exercise’ of presidential power to ignore laws the White House views as unconstitutional, as he defended the controversial practice of signing statements prevalent in George W. Bush’s White House,” CNN reports.
Wrote Kavanaugh: “If the President has a constitutional objection to a statutory mandate or prohibition, the President may decline to follow the law unless and until a final Court order dictates otherwise.”
Vice President Mike Pence “once argued the president of the United States should be held to the highest moral standards to determine whether he should resign or be removed from office,” CNN reports.
“Pence made the argument in two columns in the late 1990s, where he wrote that then-President Bill Clinton’s admission of an affair with a White House intern and prior lies to the public about the matter, possibly under oath, meant Clinton should be removed from office.”
“Yet Pence also moved beyond the specifics of the Clinton case: He made a far-reaching argument about the importance of morality and integrity to the office of the presidency.”
First Read: “Back in 2016, there wasn’t much love lost between Bernie Sanders and EMILY’s List, the Democratic advocacy group that backs pro-abortion-rights female political candidates. The groups two sparred over candidate endorsements (including for Hillary Clinton) and the campaign’s ‘condescending’ comments about Clinton’s campaign, and — last year — over Sanders’ appearance at a women’s conference.”
“Fast forward to now, and the two factions are facing off more and more in the 2018 Democratic primaries. And that’s largely been because Sanders — in races that feature prominent women — has often endorsed a rival male candidate instead.”
“It all feels like a replay of the Sanders-Clinton wars of 2016, a conflict so steeped in gender issues that the term ‘Bernie Bro’ was born. Our take: In a year when women are such a dominant force in Democratic politics, the narrative that Sanders isn’t prioritizing female candidates may not be great for his brand in the long run.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) told ABC News that he asked congressional candidate Troy Balderson (R) last week why he invited President Trump to campaign for him ahead of this week’s special election. According to Kasich, Balderson replied, “No I didn’t.”
Said Kasich: “I think Donald Trump decides where he wants to go. I think they think they are firing up the base.”
Kasich warned that Trump’s appearance in Ohio could hurt Balderson because “the chaos that seems to surround Donald Trump has unnerved a lot of people. Suburban women in particular here are the ones that are really turned off. It’s really kind of shocking because this (special election) should be just a slam dunk and it’s not.”
The Columbus Dispatch reports Balderson won’t address Kasich’s claim.
Jonathan Swan: “Like an NFL coach reviewing game film, President Trump likes to watch replays of his debate and rally performances. But instead of looking for weaknesses in technique or for places to improve, Trump luxuriates in the moments he believes are evidence of his brilliance.”
“Trump commentates as he watches, according to sources who’ve sat with him and viewed replays on his TiVo, which is pre-loaded with his favorites on the large TV in the private dining room adjoining the Oval Office. When watching replays, Trump will interject commentary, reveling in his most controversial lines. ‘Wait for it. … See what I did there?’ he’ll say.”
Said Trump, per one insider: “People think it’s easy. I’ve been doing this a long time now and people are used to it, every rally, it’s like, people have said P.T. Barnum. People have said that before. And they think that’s easy, because hey, P.T. Barnum, he does the circus. … They don’t realize, it’s a lot of work. It’s not easy.”
New York Times: “Almost a year into an antiharassment movement that has prompted a coast-to-coast cultural reckoning, Mr. Shooter and Mr. Sawyer are among more than a dozen politicians who have been accused of misconduct and are running for state legislatures again anyway.”
”Among them are a Kentucky legislator accused of sending racy text messages to an aide, a Pennsylvania lawmaker involved in a six-figure sexual harassment settlement and a Wisconsin representative accused of forcible kissing.”
“Some candidates hope that voters will accept their apologies. Others believe constituents will dismiss the allegations as untrue — or deem them unimportant at a time when state legislatures could play crucial roles either in advancing the Trump administration’s agenda or forming bulwarks against it.”