The Fix's Ask Aaron: The week in politics

Oct 12, 2018

The Fix's senior reporter Aaron Blake chats with readers in his weekly politics chat series.

Great to see everyone on this lovely, cooler Friday. What's on your mind? 

-The midterms?

-Kavanaugh fallout?

-Jamal Khasoggi?

-Democrats'/Eric Holder's tougher rhetoric?

Marquette has Walker up 1, and Marist/NBC has him down 10. Which is correct?

I have a difficult time believing Walker would get skunked, even in a bad environment. He's been so resilient. The truth, as it often is, is probably somewhere in the middle.

He is not going to win. But he has a great head start if he wants to run for president. Do you think he is a viable candidate for President, if he loses to Cruz by 5-15 points?

If he keeps it within mid-to-high single digits, I don't think it will be disqualifying. Double digits, it's be harder to see.

I know the media markets or just sheer geographic area of Texas make it a super expensive to run statewide, but there is no possible way Team O'Rourke can spend all that money before November 6th?

Yeah, I doubt he can this late in the game. But it could be a nice headstart on another campaign! All that money is transferable if he wants to start visiting Iowa.

Thought experiment: What would the senate races in Arizona and Nevada look like if Kyrsten Sinema and Jacky Rosen got half of the Democratic money and enthusiasm that's gone into Texas senate race? Actually a better question in my opinion: how much money and enthusiasm would Beto O'Rourke have gotten if he talked and voted like Kyrsten Sinema?

On the first one: In an ideal world, that Beto money would be more evenly distributed in more winnable races. The counter argument to that is: Do those candidates lack money they need. At some point, you can only run so many adds and organize so much.

Any ideas about why President Trump is so quiet on the subject of journalist Jamal Khashoggi?

I have many thoughts. Chief among them is that he's not generally bothered by human rights abuses; he tends to view that stuff mostly as an obstacle to deal-making. It's understandable that he'd be cautious with his comments, but they are pointing clearly in the direction of a soft response rather than a hard line.

Read all about it here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/11/trumps-jamal-khashoggi-reckoning-why-his-history-with-despots-suggests-he-wont-get-tough-saudi-arabia/

Do you think something comprehensive gets done if Dems take the House?

I've long said Trump has the ability to make comprehensive reform happen in a way nobody else in the GOP ever has. Question is whether he will ever agree to Dems' terms. And he moves the goal posts so much that it complicates the process so much.

It feels like Republicans are starting to come home, but they are struggling still in the Upper-Midwest, you can include Ohio in that as well.

After the election, expect some analysis of how the GOP did in the areas most hard-hit by retaliatory tariffs. Could be very telling. Upper Midwest is one of those regions.

Who's the current #1 seed for 2020?

You'll have to wait for my next list (shortly after the election) to find out!

Does Ted Cruz's extreme unlikability bite him at some point?

The newest Quinnipiac poll showed his favorability rating in Texas is higher than Beto's. Cruz was at 52-44 favorable. Beto was at 47-45 unfavorable.

https://poll.qu.edu/texas/release-detail?ReleaseID=2578

Texas goes blue or Minnesota goes red...

Hoo boy. Trump ALMOST got Minnesota, but if our politics revert a little bit post-Trump, it becomes very tough for GOP to win there.

That said, I think Democrats are a good 8-12 years away on Texas, at least. I'd say Minnesota, just because something freak could happen.

What odds are you giving the Senate flipping in November?

15%-ish? May 20%?

Hax delayed her chat start until 1 pm - totally scared of you, man; totally scared of you

That would explain all the relationship questions in here!

This was an excellent analysis on the situation except for: I believe it was yesterday that the Post had a detailed article about Trumps financial history of money relationships with the Saudi's. Unless I missed it, why did you not even mention that once in your article on the situation. Do you think it's not relevant or what? Thanks,

My story actually originally posted yesterday, before David Fahrenthold's and Jonathan O'Connell's did. But it's worth a read:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/i-like-them-very-much-trump-has-long-standing-business-ties-with-saudis-who-have-boosted-his-hotels-since-he-took-office/2018/10/11/0870df24-cd67-11e8-a360-85875bac0b1f_story.html?utm_term=.1d8515bc53eb

Does he recover from backing Kavanaugh?

Oh, I think it probably solidified him as the favorite for reelection. He was already leading.

Now that she has resigned, or will the investigation continue?

She hasn't resigned yet! She's still in till the end of the year.

Also, I'm not sure if there actually is an investigation. Was just a call for one from a watchdog.

Who's the odds-on favourite? No one is seriously considering Ivanka are they? (other than Daddy, of course)

Sounds like Dina Powell, the former deputy national security adviser, has the right of first refusal. But reports are she may stay at Goldman Sachs.

Keep an eye on Ric Grenell, too.

Will Kavanaugh matter in one month? In 2020? News cycle moves so fast that it seems nothing really sticks around that long. Examples- Putin press conference, North Korea summit, family separation. Seems like only healthcare and tax bill have stayed relevant long-term.

The way this matters is if Republican voters continue to view it as a grievance with Dems. They won, so it may just fade away. And with Dems, will their anger persist? Or will they just lose the will to fight after another high-profile loss?

If a Kasich-Hickenlooper ticket were to emerge, how would they do in a general election?

I think pretty poorly. A third-party bid needs to have 1) Big money (like self-funding money) and/or 2) pizzazz. I don't think Kasich and Hickenlooper provide either.

Will you be doing double-duty here while she's away?

It will be a fun few weeks (and beyond!).

What is the most likely surprise race we might see on election night?

New Jersey could be closer than people realize. The three-way in Mississippi has all kinds of implications for the runoff. Those would be the two.

Who wins the league?

Man City unless my Liverpool start scoring like Salah and Co. were last year.

They NYT Tax Fraud story seems to have disappeared rather quickly. Or did it? D. Fahrenthold has been doing some interesting digging.

There is plenty more to this story, but it requires real digging and time. There is also the question about whether Trump could be retroactively taxes, and what happens to his sister, who is an inactive federal appeals-court judge.

Also, if Democrats re-take the House, there could be a push for his tax returns.

Who are your top 3 for Speaker.

Pelosi

Clyburn

Joe Kennedy III

Hey Aaron, I'm curious why you thought Eric Holder's walking back of his "kick them" comments represented doubling down. To me, doubling down would've been something like "we'll kick them, then we'll kick them again"

He didn't seem to back off them at all -- just reinforced that he wasn't talking about actual violence (which he also said at the time). I thought it was pretty defiant.

He seems like a logical choice for UN. How much does the media dislike him, he was always really combative on twitter with reporters.

Yeah as someone who has been on the end of a Twitter spat or two with him, I can say that he's a bitter partisan who doesn't always make good-faith arguments. I doubt that would make GOP senators decline to confirm him again, though.

How far did you get ( I binged the whole season) ? Man do I live John Smith. Only that show could make me root for a Nazi.

4 episodes in! Trying to take it slow and savor it.

Thoughts on the Tennesee Senate race? DId Taylor Swift's comments really make a difference?

Maybe? If it gets young people our and it's a super close race? I'm not one of those people who says endorsements never matter.

What is the most likely way that the Democrats screw up their newfound momentum? Is there a possibility that they win the House, overreach, turn off moderates, and help re-elect Trump in 2020? Or does the septuagenarian leadership ensure that they don't get too extreme?

I'd say Option 1. I explained why here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/10/hillary-clintons-approval-incivility-democrats-overreach-conundrum/

Basically, the media House district went for Trump by 3 points, and there were 30 red states in the 2016 election. Democrats need to mind the middle more than the GOP does.

The USA Today should have had a footnote at the end of every lying sentence explaining the truth in the first day's publication. There is no balance needed to lies. This would have shown some real bravery in your industry. They should go back to publishing cool pie charts of America's favorite vegetables.

I tend to agree that op-eds and being the president don't give you license to publish false things. A highly curious decision.

Grennell has to be confirmed again?

Hmm I would assume since it's a different job?

Thinks he's running or just making a statement with the switch to D?

I'm generally skeptical he actually pulls the trigger, but if he's ever going to do it, now's the time.

I think Trump is an idiot and a buffoon but I don't get all riled up like most do. Is there something wrong with me?

I think there are many more people like you in this country. At the same time, pretty much everybody who rates Trump unfavorably says they view him "very" unfavorably. So there isn't a huge middle ground.

I understand your point about the USA Today Trump opinion piece, but would any major newspaper turn down something from any President?

I expect that many would, yes. We don't have to provide our platform to powerful people. That's a decision we make.

I won't vote for Trump and haven't seen a Dem I would vote for either. But I would vote for Bloomberg. Seems like it might be a could pick for the Dems.

It would be pragmatic. I'm not sure he's the fire-breather they're looking for. He's very much a corporate Democrat. 

How much trouble is Secretary Ross in? Denying he talked to anyone in the WH and then there are emails that said he did can't be good can it?

It's extremely difficult to understand his response. The bar for perjury is high, but this answer just makes no sense given what we now know.

https://twitter.com/AaronBlake/status/1050708365612081152

I have to run just a BIT early. Thanks everyone for your wonderful questions, and have a great weekend.

In This Chat
Aaron Blake
Aaron Blake is a senior political reporter, writing for The Fix. A Minnesota native and graduate of the University of Minnesota, Aaron has also written about politics for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and The Hill newspaper. Aaron lives with his family and trusty dog, Mauer, in Northern Virginia.
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