Posts Tagged ‘Nancy Pelosi’

Trump allies worry his aggressive campaign schedule could be a political liability for GOP candidates — Plus OPINION: Nail-Biter in Ohio Is a Democratic Triumph

August 9, 2018

In his final push before the 2016 presidential election, then-candidate Donald Trump spent the end of October furiously crisscrossing the country for nightly rallies with thousands of supporters. On Nov. 7 alone, the day before Election Day, the oldest president-to-be greeted voters in five different states over 12 hours.

So when Trump told longtime friend Sean Hannity in an interview last week that he plans to spend “six or seven days a week” campaigning with Republican candidates in the remaining two months before the midterm elections, few of his allies blinked twice.

Image result for donald trump, campaigning in Ohio, photos, august 2018

Troy Balderson, the Republican candidate, in Ohio’s 12th District, with Donald Trump. Credit Al Drago for The New York Times

The frenetic president, who turned 72 earlier this summer and has often bragged about his stellar health and “stamina,” is hell-bent on hitting the campaign trail as often as possible once September arrives. This week in particular, following four successful GOP primary endorsements and one special election win, Trump revealed his operating assumption: that his appearances alone can propel candidates with dim chances to glorious victories.

“As long as I campaign and/or support Senate and House candidates (within reason), they will win!” Trump claimed in a tweet Wednesday, hours after Republican Troy Balderson eked out a win over his Democratic opponent in a special race for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District.

Trump acknowledged in his mid-morning brag that maintaining a full-time campaign schedule can come only after he’s adequately addressed ongoing issues with “China, Iran, the economy and much more.”

But those close to the president’s circle insist that Trump will find time to spend multiple evenings each week at rallies and fundraisers, and some of them are concerned about the risks of such frequent public exposure.

One former White House official pointed to a July rally in Montana, where Trump’s primary purpose was to boost GOP Senate candidate Matt Rosendale. Trump “got himself in trouble,” according to this person, when he took his usual riff against Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a notch too far and mocked the #MeToo movement.

Warren, the president suggested, might cry foul if he were to toss her a DNA test during a future presidential debate so she could prove her Native American heritage. Warren is widely seen as a potential 2020 contender on the Democratic side.

“We’ll take that little kit and say, we have to do it gently because we are in the Me Too generation, and we will very gently take that kit, slowly toss it” to her, Trump said, drawing cheers and hollers from the crowd as he added that he would offer $1 million to charity if Warren took the ancestry exam and proved her “Indian” roots.

The Warren episode was one of many instances where Trump has created news cycles in mere seconds with one-off comments about the culture wars, his political opponents, or the press. Some of the president’s most die-hard supporters will even admit his loose canon persona is a political liability at a time when Republicans are hoping to preserve their congressional majority.

“He’s enormously popular with Republicans, so they don’t care when he says those sorts of things,” said the former White House official, referring to Trump’s mockery of Warren and the #MeToo movement for victims of sexual harassment or assault.

But that popularity doesn’t extend “to independent voters, Democrats, or the media,” the official said, “so it almost always becomes a negative headline that can do damage in a competitive district.”

Trump has enjoyed steady support among self-identified Republicans in recent polls. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey in late July found 88 percent of GOP voters strongly or somewhat approved of his job performance, and the poll was taken before and after he received near universal criticism for his comments at a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

That support could mean little, however, in areas where Trump’s presence alongside a candidate might be polarizing enough to cost Republicans’ the race. Instead, the president has focused his efforts so far on traditional battleground states he carried in 2016 (Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Dakota, Montana, Tennessee, Florida) and at least two (Nevada and Virginia) he didn’t.

“Give me the top 25 congress people that are, you know, could go either way, and I want to go out and campaign for those people,” Trump told Hannity, noting that he asked his chief of staff John Kelly to put together a list of the most vulnerable Republican candidates and competitive races so he could make his way to each district or state in the coming weeks.

Not everything the president says in his unscripted stump speeches is a potential detriment to GOP candidates, including his latest message on immigration. As of late, Trump has sought to capitalize on calls from progressive Democrats to “abolish ICE,” the primary federal agency in charge of enforcing immigration laws inside the United States.

“We protect ICE,” Trump said at his July rally in Montana, adding in a Fox News interview the same week that getting rid of the agency would create “a country [where] you’re going to be afraid to walk out of your house.”

Trump’s line about ICE, in addition to other criticisms he’s offered about Democratic positions on trade, healthcare, and his Supreme Court nominee, has since been repeated by Republicans seeking to attach themselves to Trump so they can ride his base of support to victory in November. Even in their TV spots, many GOP candidates have chosen to run with a pro-Trump message versus an ad that exclusively attacks their Democratic opponent or party leaders like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

“Trump was reference positively in 14.8 percent of federal election ads… in the past two months,” the Wesleyan Media Project wrote in a report this week,“whereas President Obama was mentioned positively in less than 1 percent… during the same time period in 2010 to 2014.”

“The problem is, once you align yourself with the president on one issue there’s no escaping the uglier things he sometimes says,” said a former Trump campaign adviser, adding that the president’s upcoming campaign schedule could potentially be “a gift to Democrats just before the election.”



OPINION: Nail-Biter in Ohio Is a Democratic Triumph

This Week’s Elections Hold Warning Signs for Republicans

August 9, 2018

Races in Ohio and elsewhere highlight challenges facing GOP heading into November midterms

Republican congressional candidate Troy Balderson celebrating after giving his victory speech on Tuesday night in Newark, Ohio.
Republican congressional candidate Troy Balderson celebrating after giving his victory speech on Tuesday night in Newark, Ohio. PHOTO:JUSTIN MERRIMAN/GETTY IMAGES

WASHINGTON—Elections held in five states Tuesday underscored the Republican Party’s growing challenges with suburban voters, which could expand the battlefield in November’s midterms.

In Ohio, Republican Troy Balderson’s apparent win in a House special election Tuesday came after he performed well in the exurbs and rural areas, but his victory margin was just 0.9 percentage point as Democrat Danny O’Connor racked up big leads in the Columbus suburbs.

Mr. Balderson managed to eke ahead only after his party used every tactic in its playbook, from tying the Democratic candidate to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi —with more than $5 million in TV ads behind it—to having President Trump gin up the party base to help him.

Still, the race could end up in a recount, and GOP officials began warning their colleagues that this playbook isn’t sustainable in November when dozens of seats will be contested.

“We panicked and the cavalry came,” said former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges. “Without that cavalry, Balderson very well might have lost.”

Democrats, meanwhile, were encouraged by Mr. O’Connor’s performance in a district Mr. Trump carried by 11 percentage points. In 2016, GOP Rep. Pat Tiberi won re-election in the same district by 36 points. Mr. Tiberi subsequently resigned to take a job leading an Ohio business group, prompting the special election.

According to an analysis from the Cook Political Report Wednesday, there are 68 GOP-held seats that are less solidly Republican than the Ohio 12th. Democrats must net 23 seats to gain control of the House in November.

“To be so close and not pull it out is disappointing, but the reality is we shouldn’t have been in the game,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D., Ohio). “I think this result is a canary in the coal mine for the Republicans.”

Democrats involved in Mr. O’Connor’s race said Mr. Trump’s Saturday night rally helped drive up Republican turnout for Mr. Balderson. GOP leaders, though, cautioned that the president may not be able to repeat that performance in dozens of congressional districts, nor will they be able to sink millions into every contested seat.

The president’s impact elsewhere was less clear. In Kansas, Mr. Trump intervened on the eve of the governor’s primary, with a Twitter endorsement of Secretary of State Kris Kobach against incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer, who ascended to the post when his predecessor, Sam Brownback, resigned to become an ambassador in the Trump administration.

The race was tied in pre-primary surveys, and remained virtually deadlocked, with Mr. Kobach ahead by 200 votes out of more than 311,000 cast.

The Associated Press has yet to declare a winner in the Ohio House race or the Kansas GOP gubernatorial primary. Each may require a recount due to the narrow margins of victory.

Mr. Kobach was a Trump favorite long before the president tweeted his support. He had served as an immigration adviser for the Trump campaign and had led the since-disbanded presidential commission tasked with investigating the president’s unproven claim that millions of people voted illegally in 2016. Mr. Kobach also claimed there was rampant voter fraud in the election, although his commission produced no evidence to back that up.

Donald Trump Jr. campaigned for Mr. Kobach, who highlighted his connection with the president in his TV ads.

Stephanie Clayton, a Kansas state house Republican who was neutral in Tuesday’s primary, said the value of Mr. Trump’s endorsement was minimal because voters already knew Mr. Kobach was close to Mr. Trump.

“Kansans have known that Kobach was Trump’s guy for a long time, for years,” she said. “So the Trump endorsement, I really don’t think put things over the top.”

Tuesday held other warning signs for the GOP.

In Washington state, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the House conference’s fourth-ranking member, appeared to have won less than 50% against a field of challengers. The top two vote-getters in the open primary will face off in November.

Washington, which conducts its elections entirely by mail, had counted only about two-thirds of its votes by late Wednesday because other ballots haven’t yet been received by election officials.

The Ohio results were especially troubling for the GOP given Mr. O’Connor’s strength in the Columbus suburbs, long a Republican stronghold before Mr. Trump’s emergence as the party standard-bearer.

In southwest Ohio, GOP Rep. Steve Chabot’s district, which backed Mr. Trump by 6 percentage points, is a similar mix of urban, suburban and rural areas.

The 11-term incumbent faces a challenge from Aftab Pureval, a Democrat who is the elected clerk of courts in Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati.

Despite his congressional seniority, Mr. Chabot has raised just $383,000 in 2018, a fraction of Mr. Pureval’s $1.6 million, according to Federal Election Commission disclosure reports.

“It’s not surprising when you look at the energy and activism in our state,” said Mr. Pureval. “We’re seeing it in Cincinnati every day.”

Mr. Chabot, in a campaign blog post Wednesday, said Tuesday’s results won’t mean much for his re-election bid. He predicted the November electorate will look more like those from 2010 and 2014, when Republicans dominated, rather than a special election in August.

“So what does this race mean for the upcoming midterm elections? Not all that much in my humble opinion,” he wrote. “Although it’s clear that the liberal base is energized this time around, principally because they hate Trump so much.”

Republicans are certain to continue to deploy the anti-Pelosi playbook they used against Mr. O’Connor. Mr. Balderson’s campaign and outside GOP groups ran 3,298 commercials tying Mr. O’Connor to Mrs. Pelosi, according to CMAG/Kantar Media, an ad-tracking firm. Mr. O’Connor said he wouldn’t support Mrs Pelosi for speaker or party leader if elected.

“As Danny O’Connor learned, Nancy Pelosi is the most unpopular polarizing politician in American politics,” said Corry Bliss, executive director of the House GOP’s super PAC.

Six of the nine different ads Mr. Bliss’s group aired in the race made an O’Connor-Pelosi connection.

Mrs. Pelosi praised Mr. O’Connor’s performance in a statement early Wednesday that made no reference to his refusal to support her.

“Danny O’Connor’s laser focus on health care and the pocketbook issues that matter most to hardworking families clearly resonated with Ohio voters across the political spectrum,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

Write to Reid J. Epstein at

Appeared in the August 9, 2018, print edition as ‘Elections Hold Warning Signs for GOP.’

Trump Says U.S. Now Has the Upper Hand on China in Tariff Battle (It seems we’ll find out…)

August 5, 2018

President Donald Trump defended his use of tariffs that have inflamed tensions with China and Europe, telling an audience of diehard supporters on Saturday that playing hardball on trade is “my thing.”

“We have really rebuilt China, and it’s time that we rebuild our own country now,” Trump said Saturday during about an hour of free-wheeling remarks at a rally outside Columbus, Ohio. He added that Chinese stocks are down, weakening that nation’s bargaining power in the escalating trade war.


PHOTO: President Donald Trump waves to the cheering crowd as he arrives to speak at a rally at Olentangy Orange High School in Lewis Center, Ohio, August 4, 2018.Carolyn Kaster/AP
President Donald Trump waves to the cheering crowd as he arrives to speak at a rally at Olentangy Orange High School in Lewis Center, Ohio, August 4, 2018.

Hours before the rally, Trump posted a string of tweets on the issue, saying the U.S. market is “stronger than ever,” while the Chinese market “has dropped 27% in last 4 months, and they are talking to us.”

It was unclear which measure of Chinese stocks Trump was referring to. The U.S. S&P 500 index, a broad measure of major U.S. companies, has yet to regain highs made in January, just before the escalation of trade tensions initiated by the U.S.

“Tariffs are working far better than anyone ever anticipated” and would make the U.S. “much richer than it is today,” the president tweeted.

At the rally, Trump added that the Europeans are “dying to make a deal.”

Trump went to Lewis Center, Ohio, to stump for Troy Balderson. The Republican state senator is facing an unexpectedly close contest against Democrat Danny O’Connor in an Aug. 7 special election for the congressional seat vacated earlier this year by Representative Pat Tiberi.

In 2016, Trump carried Ohio’s 12th House district, but the current House race is rated as a toss-up in a seat Republicans have held for more than three decades. Whether Trump can help Balderson may be seen as another signal of how likely Democrats are to take control of the House of Representatives in November.

Steel Industry

In a nod to the Ohio economy, Trump said Saturday on Twitter that tariffs “have had a tremendous impact on our Steel Industry.” The president has said several times in the past two months, without evidence, that U.S. Steel plans to open six or seven new steel mills. He talked about steel at some length during the rally, saying the industry is making “one of the biggest comebacks.”

The Ohio stop was Trump’s third political rally in the past week, following stops in Tampa, Florida, and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The president is expected to add additional events, one or more per week, through Labor Day.

The events give Trump a chance to frame on his own terms his much-debated moves on trade, foreign policy, media-bashing and interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And that may be a welcome distraction in a week when headlines were dominated by the start of the trial of his one-time campaign chairman Paul Manafort on fraud charges connected to his work for Russians and Ukrainians.

Demonizing Critics

The rallies are also a venue for Trump to demonize high-profile critics whom he believes his political base also resents, including the media, Congressional Democratic leaders, and various celebrities.

On the eve of Saturday’s event, Trump took to Twitter to question the intelligence of basketball great LeBron James, who’s been critical of the president. James, 33, who left the Cleveland Cavaliers at the end last season to join the Los Angeles Lakers, was in the news this week for using his fortune and fame to launch a school for at-risk youth in his Ohio home town.

Trump didn’t talk about James at the rally, though. Earlier, a spokeswoman for Melania Trump said the first lady was open to visiting James’s new school and that the NBA star is “working to do good things.”

This week’s trio of rallies also underscores two tests this year’s midterm elections present for Trump: whether his enduring popularity with Republicans in swing states he won in 2016 can transfer to down-ballot candidates by driving turnout. And, conversely, whether a backlash to his administration energizes Democratic voters in November.

In the Ohio special election, Balderson’s rival, O’Connor, is 31 with little political experience, but has sought to appeal to the center, focusing on economic issues and keeping his distance from the top Democrat in the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. A similar strategy helped Democratic political newcomer Conor Lamb win a House seat in Pennsylvania in April.


Beijing is ‘fully prepared and will have to retaliate to defend national dignity and the people’s interests’

See also:

Xi Jinping sees some pushback against his iron-fisted rule


Cracks appear in ‘invincible’ Xi Jinping’s authority over China

Department of Justice Stonewalls: DoJ Failed To Preserve Comey Emails, Records

August 3, 2018

The Department of Justice has refused to take any steps to preserve work-related emails of former FBI Director James Comey
He leaked his memos on Trump but good luck finding what wasn’t leaked.
Image result for James comey, photos
  • The Department of Justice is refusing to preserve work-related emails on former FBI Director James Comey’s private account.
  • The Justice Department Inspector General disclosed that Comey used a personal email account to conduct agency business.
  • The Justice Department has refused to turn over government records on Comey’s personal account, which The Daily Caller News Foundation and Judicial Watch requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Department of Justice has refused to take any steps to preserve work-related emails former FBI Director James Comey had on a personal account that The Daily Caller News Foundation and Judicial Watch requested under the Freedom of Information Act, the conservative watchdog will file in court Friday.

“There is nothing but complete silence about why the FBI has failed to take steps to preserve records responsive to DCNF’s request,” Judicial Watch attorney Michael Bekesha will write in the filing before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

By Richard Pollock | Reporter

Judicial Watch and The DCNF filed a joint lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act on April 25 seeking records, including emails, Comey produced regarding meetings and conversations he had with then-President Barack Obama, then-Vice President Joe Biden and a variety of other political figures.

Following the Justice Department Inspector General’s June 2018 report, which disclosed that Comey used a personal Gmail account for official FBI business, both groups sought a preservation order to assure no records related to their FOIA requests were lost or destroyed.

Both groups requested U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly order the Justice Department to preserve all of Comey’s personal emails related to the two requests on July 27.

The same day, Kollar-Kotelly took the unusual step of demanding an expedited reply from the Justice Department, ordering that the agency respond to the court by Aug. 1 and to respond to Judicial Watch and TheDCNF by Aug. 3. (RELATED: Daily Caller News Foundation And Judicial Watch Seek To Preserve Comey’s Private Emails)

In its reply to the court on Aug. 1, Justice Department U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu continued to refuse to send an order to Comey or share its communications with the former director seeking the preservation of all his personal emails related to the FOIA requests.

In its opposition to the preservation request, the Justice Department stated, “even if they [sic] were a possibility of responsive records in Director Comey’s personal email, Plaintiffs cannot meet their burden of showing that such records would be lost without a preservation order.”

Comey has been cagey about the number of times he met with and had conversations with Obama. An email Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, wrote and sent to herself on Inauguration Day noted for the record that Obama, Biden, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and herself met with Comey.

Committee on the Judiciary members Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina discovered Rice’s email. The email was at odds with his June 8, 2017, testimonybefore the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, in which he suggested that his firsthand meetings with Obama were rare.

“As FBI director, I interacted with President Obama. I spoke only twice in three years,” he said. “I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) — once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016,” Comey’s opening statement to the Intelligence Committee read.

Bekesha wrote that the FBI’s assistant section chief for record dissemination “does not state that the FBI formally requested Comey preserve any agency records or potential agency records responsive to DCNF’s FOIA request. Nor does he state that the FBI asked Comey to return any such records to the FBI.”

Judicial Watch, in its May 22 FOIA, asked for any documents or memoranda written or ordered written by Comey summarizing his conversations with any of the following individuals: Obama, Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona

TheDCNF requested records that identify and describe all meetings between Comey and Obama on Feb. 16.

Trump Digs In Against Criticism on Multiple Fronts

July 21, 2018

A hectic week that began with the controversial Putin summit ends with new tariff threats, public pressure on Fed

President Donald Trump left the White House for the weekend on Friday after a turbulent few days since the summit with Russia’s leader.
President Donald Trump left the White House for the weekend on Friday after a turbulent few days since the summit with Russia’s leader.PHOTO: MICHAEL REYNOLDS/EPA-EFE/REX/SHU/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump ended a turbulent week by shrugging off criticism of his dealings with Russia, his use of tariffs to influence trade and his public scolding of the Fed.

Instead, frustrated by being told what he can’t do, he dug in on all three fronts.

“All he’s hearing in D.C. is ‘you can’t do this, you can’t do that.’ He can’t criticize the Fed, he can’t criticize the intelligence community,” said a person close to the president, echoing others in Mr. Trump’s orbit. “He’s obviously going to get frustrated by the can’t-do mentality.”

Mr. Trump has spent much of the four days since Monday’s summit with Vladimir Putin seeking to reverse or otherwise soften his comments at the news conference with the Russian leader, in which he appeared to side with Moscow over his own intelligence agencies about whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

Yet on Wednesday, he ordered a top aide to invite Mr. Putin to visit Washington this fall—around the same time as the congressional midterm elections in which U.S. intelligence agencies say Moscow is actively trying to interfere.

The conflicting messages out of the White House underscore Mr. Trump’s increasingly defiant approach in the wake of his own perceived missteps: In the face of criticism, persist.

“The president doesn’t respect norms,” the person close to him said. “Norms are rules written by somebody else.”

Mr. Trump also this week ignored criticism on his conduct on trade and monetary-policy issues. On Friday, he escalated his criticism of the Federal Reserve, saying in a tweet that its efforts to raise short-term interest rates hurt the U.S. economic expansion, a day after he was chided by some for saying he hoped the central bank would stop raising interest rates.

His comments, which ricocheted through currency and bond markets on Thursday, departed from a convention in which presidents have refrained from speaking specifically on monetary policy. The White House raced to clarify his comments by saying he still respects the Fed’s independence.

China has pledged to retaliate against U.S. tariffs in “equal scale and equal strength.” In addition to tariffs, here are three ways Beijing could hit back at Washington. Photo: Getty Images

Mr. Trump also threatened tariffs again on $500 billion in Chinese imports in the same week that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah), chairman of the Senate Finance panel and a longtime Trump ally, sent the White House a letter warning he would try to curtail presidential trade authority if Mr. Trump didn’t reverse course.

“I think he had the most challenging week of his presidency in terms of living up to his own expectations,” said Andy Card, who was chief of staff to GOP President George W. Bush. “I do think he’s come to recognize that it didn’t go the way he thought it would go.” But, Mr. Card added, “I’m not sure he likes learning the lessons he’s learned.”

Despite the criticism he has faced, Mr. Trump’s approval rating remains high among his base. Among registered GOP voters, 84% approve of his job performance, according to a Reuters/Ipsos survey conducted July 13 to 17.

Mr. Trump’s actions on several major policy fronts also surprised top aides.

On Thursday, he directed national security adviser John Bolton to invite Mr. Putin to Washington, according to a National Security Council spokesman. Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, was taken aback by the development when informed about it during a live interview that day. “Say that again?” Mr. Coats responded.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) on Friday called the invitation “beyond belief,” adding: “Putin’s ongoing attacks on our elections and on Western democracies and his illegal actions in Crimea and the rest of Ukraine deserve the fierce, unanimous condemnation of the international community, not a VIP ticket to our nation’s capital.”

Why Didn’t Trump Confront Putin Publicly?

President Donald Trump failed to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin on tough issues at a summit in Helsinki on Monday. WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib explains. Photo: Getty

For much of the White House, Mr. Trump’s conduct at the news conference with Mr. Putin on Monday was wholly unexpected. Administration officials ahead of the summit had crafted a plan for Mr. Trump to confront Mr. Putin on Russia’s electoral interference, officials said.

Before the summit, Mr. Trump had authorized the Justice Department to release an indictment of 12 Russians who allegedly hacked into Democratic computers during the 2016 campaign, agreeing it would strengthen his hand when he raised the issue of election interference, a White House official said.

In preparatory meetings, Mr. Trump and his aides discussed using the indictment to forcefully make the case. The plan was for Mr. Trump to invoke the indictment both in private meetings and in the public news conference afterward, a White House official said. The idea, the official said, was to “shove it in Putin’s face and look strong doing it,” depicting it as hard evidence of Russian crimes against America’s electoral process.

“He did the exact opposite,” the official said. During the news conference, Mr. Trump appeared to side with Mr. Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies, saying he saw no reason why Russia would have interfered in the election. On Tuesday, he said he meant to say he saw no reason why Russia wouldn’t have interfered.

It’s unclear how hard Mr. Trump pressed the matter in his one-on-one meeting with Mr. Putin, which itself sparked controversy amid the probe of Russian meddling. The White House has released scant details of the discussions.

“It was a well laid-out plan. Unfortunately, he didn’t execute on it,” the official said.

One reason Mr. Trump might have gone his own way and discarded the initial planning, a White House official said, is because he is seeking a better relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

Mr. Trump’s performance at the summit and afterward complicates plans for the midterm elections, a White House official said.

White House aides had begun preparations to make Mr. Trump the public face of planned efforts by the administration to stop election interference in the midterms. Mr. Trump would be shown presiding over meetings and making announcements about an administration-wide commitment to safeguard the 2018 elections. In the wake of the Putin summit, Mr. Trump may struggle to credibly make the case that he is spearheading the effort to protect U.S. election systems, the official said.

One reason Mr. Trump is reluctant to spotlight the issue of election interference, White House officials said, is he can’t separate it in his mind from the outcome of the 2016 election. Accepting that Russia interfered, as he sees it, devalues his victory and unfairly casts doubts on his legitimacy as president, the officials said.

“We won the Electoral College by a lot,” Mr. Trump declared at Monday’s news conference, responding to a question posed to Mr. Putin about why Americans should believe his denial that Moscow interfered in the election. “We did a great job.”

Write to Rebecca Ballhaus at and Peter Nicholas at

Appeared in the July 21, 2018, print edition as ‘President Digs In Against Critics.’

A day after back-tracking, Trump defends summit performance

July 18, 2018

Taking to Twitter early Wednesday, President Donald Trump defended anew his much-criticized performance at the Helsinki summit, promising “big results” from better relations with Russia and hitting back at “haters.”

Trump made no mention of his having walked back comments that called into question U.S. intelligence findings of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Those comments, delivered alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit press conference Monday, had prompted blistering, bipartisan criticism at home.

“So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki,” Trump tweeted.

He added: “We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match.”

In a follow-up tweet, Trump wrote that Russia has agreed to help in delicate negotiations with North Korea. But he gave no details on how and when that would happen.

“Big benefits and exciting future for North Korea at end of process!” he wrote.

Amid bipartisan condemnation of his embrace of a longtime U.S. enemy, Trump sought to end 27 hours of recrimination by delivering a rare admission of error Tuesday. He backed away from his public undermining of American intelligence agencies, saying he misspoke when he said he saw no reason to believe Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

A day after U.S. President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump is going back on comments he made during their joint press conference. (July 17)

“The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t, or why it wouldn’t be Russia’” instead of “why it would,” Trump said Tuesday of the comments he had made standing alongside Putin on the summit stage in Helsinki.

That didn’t explain why Trump, who had tweeted a half-dozen times and sat for two television interviews since the Putin news conference, waited so long to correct his remarks. And the scripted cleanup pertained only to the least defensible of his comments.

He didn’t reverse other statements in which he gave clear credence to Putin’s “extremely strong and powerful” denial of Russian involvement, raised doubts about his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions and advanced discredited conspiracy theories about election meddling.

Trump also accused past American leaders, rather than Russia’s destabilizing actions in the U.S. and around the world, for the souring of relations between two countries. And he did not address his other problematic statements during a week-long Europe tour, in which he sent the NATO alliance into emergency session and assailed British Prime Minister Theresa May as she was hosting him for an official visit.

“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump conceded Tuesday. But even then he made a point of adding, “It could be other people also. A lot of people out there. There was no collusion at all.”

Moments earlier, the usually reserved Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, publicly reassured America’s allies in Europe with whom Trump clashed during his frenzied trip last week.

“The European countries are our friends, and the Russians are not,” McConnell declared.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Trump was trying to “squirm away” from his comments alongside Putin. “It’s 24 hours too late and in the wrong place,” he said.

By dusk, hundreds of activists, led by attorney Michael Avenatti and actress Alyssa Milano, staged a protest near the White House, with chants of “traitor!” echoing along Pennsylvania Avenue.

Trump still maintained that his meetings with NATO allies went well and his summit with Putin “even better.” But this reference to diplomatic success carried an edge, too, since the barrage of criticism and insults he delivered in Brussels and London was hardly well-received.

Later Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “The meeting between President Putin and myself was a great success, except in the Fake News Media!”

On Capitol Hill, top Republican leaders said they were open to slapping fresh sanctions on Russia, but they showed no sign of acting any time soon.

“Let’s be very clear, just so everybody knows: Russia did meddle with our elections,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, another steady Trump political ally. “What we intend to do is make sure they don’t get away with it again and also to help our allies.”

In the Senate, McConnell said “there’s a possibility” his chamber would act, pointing to a bipartisan measure from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., to deter future Russian interference by ordering sanctions against countries if they do.

Both parties called for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other officials to appear before Congress and tell exactly what happened during Trump’s two-hour private session with Putin. Pompeo is to publicly testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 25.

Schumer also urged the Senate to take up legislation to boost security for U.S. elections and to revive a measure passed earlier by the Judiciary Committee to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.

But minority Democrats have few tools to enforce anything.

In the House, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi staged a vote in support of the intelligence committee’s findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. But even that largely symbolic measure was blocked party-line by Republicans.

Senators had floated a similar idea earlier, and Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona said he was preparing a bipartisan bill. But The No. 2 Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, said sanctions may be preferable to a nonbinding resolution that amounts to “just some messaging exercise.”

Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki was his first time sharing the international stage with a man he has described as an important U.S. competitor — but whom he has also praised a strong, effective leader.

Standing alongside Putin, Trump steered clear of any confrontation with the Russian, going so far as to question American intelligence and last week’s federal indictments that accused 12 Russians of hacking into Democratic email accounts to hurt Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

“He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be,” Trump said. That’s the part he corrected on Tuesday.

White House officials did not elaborate on how Trump came to issue the clarification, but administration aides described being stunned by his initial remarks Monday..

After his walk-back, Trump said his administration would “move aggressively” to repel efforts to interfere in American elections.

“We are doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018,” he said. “And we have a lot of power.”

The Associated Press

Follow Miller on Twitter at and Mascaro at

Pelosi, Schumer: Trump’s news conference suggests Putin has something on him

July 16, 2018

The top two Democrats in Congress suggested Monday that President Trump’s performance during a joint news conference with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin signaled that Russia has damaging information on the U.S. leader.

“President Trump’s weakness in front of Putin was embarrassing, and proves that the Russians have something on the president, personally, financially or politically,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “This is a sad day for America, and for all Western democracies that Putin continues to target.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) was less direct but raised the same prospect in a statement issued shortly after Trump and Putin concluded a remarkable news conference in Helsinki at the end of a summit that both said included discussion of Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 presidential election.

“A single, ominous question now hangs over the White House: What could possibly cause President Trump to put the interests of Russia over those of the United States?” Schumer said in a statement. “Millions of Americans will continue to wonder if the only possible explanation for this dangerous behavior is the possibility that President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump.”

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Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), accompanied by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), speaks at a news conference in March. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

During the news conference, Putin again denied any election interference, and Trump cast doubt on the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies to the contrary.

“I don’t see any reason why” Russia would interfere in the election, Trump told reporters, also characterizing the probe by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as “a disaster for our country.”

Asked whether the Russian government has compromising material on Trump, Putin said he was aware of “rumors” that such material was collected during a 2013 visit by Trump to Moscow but that it was “difficult to imagine” that had occurred.

“When President Trump was at Moscow back then, I didn’t even know that he was in Moscow,” Putin said. “I treat President Trump with utmost respect, but back then when he was a private individual, a businessman, nobody informed me that he was in Moscow.”

Trump’s 2013 visit came in conjunction with the Miss Universe pageant, which he owned. A dossier compiled by a former British spy contains salacious allegations about Trump’s behavior on the trip, which Trump has denied.

At a news conference later Thursday, Schumer elaborated on his statement and called on Republicans to stand up to Trump.

“Where are the Republicans who know in their heart the president is giving away the store to Vladimir Putin?” Schumer said on Capitol Hill. “The best people to check him are not Democrats but his fellow Republicans.”

Schumer called on those in the GOP to do four things: ratchet up sanctions against Russia; end their attacks on the FBI, Justice Department and Mueller; invite Trump’s national security team to testify before Congress about preparations for the summit with Putin; and push the president to call on Putin to extradite the 12 military intelligence officers were indicted last week on charges they hacked Democrats’ computers, stole their data and published those files to disrupt the 2016 election.

Pelosi says Trump must demand that Putin stop Russia election meddling — Where’s America’s Cybersecurity?

July 14, 2018

President Donald Trump must seek a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin to end Moscow’s interference in American elections, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives said on Friday after fresh indictments against Russian military officers.

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FILE PHOTO: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a press conference on the Trump Administration’s tax cuts at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, U.S., on June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Toya Sarno Jordan/File Photo

“President Trump must demand and secure a real, concrete and comprehensive agreement that the Russians will cease their ongoing attacks on our democracy,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “Failure to stand up to Putin would constitute a profound betrayal of the Constitution and our democracy.”


Reporting by Makini Brice and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Bernadette Baum


“We reap what we sow…”

Peace and Freedom Note: 

America has to do what America can do. It seems to us, that we have little or no ability to “make Putin stop.” Our job here in the U.S. is to start to get serious about cybersecurity — or suffer the consequences….

A guy that gets a sexually transmitted disease can always blame the woman. But he should have worn a condom.

So all this kerfuffle about Robert Muller catching Russians who got emails from U.S. computers really overlooks the lack of very basic cybersecurity.

And maybe we should think again about the consequences for James Comey and Peter Strzok letting Hillary Clinton walk free for her inability to protect U.S. classified information while Secretary of State…..

It wasn’t careless. It was criminal.

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Peter Strzok during a congressional hearing, July 12, 2018. Reuters photo

Peace and Freedom


Trump Pressed to Confront Putin After Mueller’s Indictments — But Didn’t Hillary Clinton Have a Private Email Server With No Government Security Protections While She Was Secretary of State?

July 14, 2018

A guy that gets a sexually transmitted disease can always blame the woman. But he should have worn a condom.

So all this kerfuffle about Robert Muller catching Russians who got emails from U.S. computers really overlooks the lack of very basic cybersecurity.

And maybe we should think again about the consequences for James Comey and Peter Strzok letting Hillary Clinton walk free for her inability to protect U.S. classified information while Secretary of State…..

Image result for peter strzok, photos

Peter Strzok during a congressional hearing, July 12, 2018. Reuters photo

Peace and Freedom


From Bloomberg News


Whatever Donald Trump had hoped to get out of his summit with Vladimir Putin, Robert Mueller changed the game.

The U.S. president’s goals for the meeting had always been unclear. But now Trump is under pressure — including from several members of Congress from his own party — to finally confront Putin once and for all over trying to sabotage the election that put Trump in the White House.

Democrats called on him to scrap the summit in protest. That’s not happening, the White House said. And there’s no sign that Trump will demand that Putin turn over the 12 Russian intelligence officials the special counsel indicted — and they likely will never stand trial.

Image result for Trump, Putin, Russian nesting dolls, photos

But Monday’s meeting in Helsinki has become a pivotal test of Trump’s strength and will to defend election integrity — something he hasn’t done so far.

“It will be somewhat more difficult for him to simply go through the motions,” said Daniel Fried, who served as assistant secretary of state for Europe under President George W. Bush. “The point is to send Putin a very clear message: Stay out of our elections.”

‘Extensive Plot’

Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, said the indictments add to evidence confirming an “extensive plot” by the Kremlin to sow discord among American voters, attack the 2016 election, and undermine faith in democracy.

“President Trump must be willing to confront Putin from a position of strength and demonstrate that there will be a serious price to pay for his ongoing aggression towards the United States and democracies around the world,” McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, said in a statement. “If President Trump is not prepared to hold Putin accountable, the summit in Helsinki should not move forward.”

Trump focused his ire not on Putin but his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, in a series of tweets Saturday morning from his Turnberry golf club in Scotland.

“The stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama Administration, not the Trump Administration,” Trump wrote. “Why didn’t they do something about it, especially when it was reported that President Obama was informed by the FBI in September, before the Election?”

DNC Server

In a subsequent tweet, Trump questioned why the FBI didn’t take possession of the Democratic National Committee server that was hacked by the Russians, and appeared to insinuate that a unsubstantiated and unexplained conspiracy involving the “Deep State.” Former FBI director James Comey said last year Democrats had opted to give the server to a third party that shared its analysis with the FBI, rather than turning it over directly to the government.

The tweets followed remarks at a press conference Friday where Trump belittled the idea of challenging the Russian president over election interference during a press conference on Friday just before the criminal charges were announced, though Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had warned Trump earlier in the week the indictments were coming.

Donald Trump speaks on July 13.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

“I will absolutely, firmly ask the question” to Putin, Trump said at a news conference on Friday with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May at Chequers, her country estate. But he suggested there was little point to the exercise..

Perry Mason Moment

“I don’t think you’ll have any ‘Gee, I did it, I did it, you got me,”’ Trump said. Referring to a TV courtroom drama of the 1950s and 1960s that often featured a dramatic, last-minute confession, he added, “There won’t be a Perry Mason here, I don’t think, but you never know what happens, right?”

Trump has previously shown little appetite for pressing the issue, telling reporters after meeting with Putin in Vietnam last November that he was done discussing it and that he believed the Russian leader’s denials were sincere.

“He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One after the meeting. “And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”

‘Not a Question’

Lawmakers from his own party said Friday that was no longer enough.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, a frequent critic of the president, said Trump must do more than ask.

“Mr. President, as today’s indictments reaffirm, election interference is not a question to be asked of Vladimir Putin, but a statement to be made to Vladimir Putin: You interfered in our elections,” Flake said on Twitter.

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, a California Republican, said in a statement Friday that Trump “should use today’s indictments to challenge” Putin at the meeting.

A chorus of Democrats including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said Trump must call off the summit.

“President Trump should cancel his meeting with Vladimir Putin until Russia takes demonstrable and transparent steps to prove that they won’t interfere in future elections,” Schumer said in a statement. “Glad-handing with Vladimir Putin on the heels of these indictments would be an insult to our democracy.”

No Russia Criticism

The White House’s initial reaction to the indictments was defensive and didn’t include any criticism of the Russian government or its indicted operatives, all of whom were identified as officials in Moscow’s main military intelligence agency, the GRU. The Russians are charged with stealing user names and passwords of people working in Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, including its chairman John Podesta, and hacking into the computer networks of other Democratic party organizations.

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John Podesta: His password was “password”.

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in a statement that “today’s charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result.”

Podesta said in an interview that at the summit “maybe he should ask Putin to turn over the 12 people indicted to the United States for trial.”

Trump has long downplayed Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, and has repeatedly referred to Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt” even as it has piled up guilty pleas and indictments of Russians and Trump campaign associates.

Better Putin Relationship

Trump suggested at stops in Europe that his primary goal for his meeting with Putin is a better relationship, though he also said he would discuss Russia’s incursions into Ukraine, the civil war in Syria and nuclear proliferation.

“We go into that meeting not looking for so much,” he told reporters at a news conference Thursday following a NATO summit in Brussels.

“I didn’t go in with high expectations,” Trump told reporters at the Friday press conference with May. “We do have political problem where — you know in the United States we have this stupidity going on. Pure stupidity. But it makes it very hard to do something with Russia. Anything you do, it’s always going to be, ‘Oh, Russia, he loves Russia.”’

The indictments are the most detailed explanation so far of how units of Russia’s GRU attempted to influence the 2016 election by stealing Democratic emails, then releasing them in ways meant to dominate news headlines as voters made up their minds.

Prosecutors also detailed a second Russian operation targeting the infrastructure that Americans use to cast their ballots and the officials that oversee those elections locally.

American intelligence agencies have concluded that Putin personally ordered a campaign to undermine “public faith in the U.S. democratic process” with the goal of hurting Clinton’s candidacy and ultimately helping to elect Trump.

— With assistance by Justin Sink, Margaret Talev, Tom Schoenberg, Michael Riley, and Steven T. Dennis

(Updates with Trump tweets starting in ninth paragraph.)
See also:

John Podesta: ‘We Just Found Some Witches And They Were Indicted’



Hillary Clinton speaking during a campaign event in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday.

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‘You can beat the establishment’: Ocasio-Cortez crashes Democratic primaries

July 5, 2018

The New York insurgent is stepping on toes as she rallies progressive candidates across the country.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has used her sudden fame as a platform to endorse and promote fellow insurgents across the country in their primary challenges against Democratic incumbents. | Seth Wenig/AP Photo

Fan art, prints and mugs inscribed with her quotes are available on Etsy. Her Twitter following has spiked to more than 600,000.The lipstick brand she wore for several TV appearances sold out online after she made her preference public.

In the days since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning upset victory in the New York primary, the 28-year-old Democrat has become not just a full-blown political sensation but an international news phenomenon — and she’s leveraging it to the hilt.

Almost as soon as she was declared the winner over Rep. Joe Crowley, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Ocasio-Cortez made clear her ambition isn’t limited to the confines of the Queens and Bronx-based House district she’s almost certain to win in November.

She’s used her sudden fame as a platform to endorse and promote fellow insurgents across the country in their primary challenges against Democratic incumbents. And in the process, she’s building a national following that stands to make her an influential House progressive the moment she is sworn in.

“[Ocasio-Cortez’s victory] told people this is real. It’s not just a hoop dream. This can happen. You can beat the establishment,” said Kerri Harris, a 38-year-old biracial military veteran and community activist who is challenging Sen. Tom Carper in Delaware’s Democratic primary. “It put excitement back in our team. People are so excited.”

Many of the Democratic challengers describe Ocasio-Cortez as the candidate who opened the floodgates of pent-up enthusiasm among young progressives — they felt silenced during the 2016 presidential campaign because of what they saw as the pre-ordained designation of Hillary Clinton as the party’s nominee and a party platform that was too moderate for their tastes.

Like nearly all of the longshot candidates Ocasio-Cortez has backed — from Hawaii to Kansas to Florida — Harris says her campaign experienced a surge of energy after Ocasio-Cortez tweeted support for her candidacy, including a burst in the number of donors and volunteer signups.

“We exploded — exploded after her win,” she told POLITICO.

Most political novices like Ocasio-Cortez might buckle down and focus on ingratiating themselves with other elected officials, or turn their attention toward the general election. But Ocasio-Cortez — the first Democrat to knock off an incumbent in a House primary this year — has chosen an almost unheard of path by spending her political capital on raising the profiles of other progressive Democrats in New York and elsewhere who face long odds in their own primary and general election races.

It’s a risky strategy for someone who hasn’t even won her own seat yet — and an approach that’s guaranteed to alienate many in her own party.

“Well, I think it’s odd, in that, she got elected to some degree by accusing Crowley of not being local enough. And here she is going national and she’s not even in office yet,” said Bill Cunningham, former communications director for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “It’s fun when everyone comes knocking on your door and says ‘Do you want to go on Meet the Press or Face the Nation?‘ That’s a little bit of a heady experience. This is her 15 minutes of fame, and she’s using it the best she can. But the people who voted for her may wonder what that has to do with them.”

The strains of her newfound role are already showing as her young, inexperienced staff try to manage a flood of media requests. Her campaign manager, who once regularly reached out to local media asking for coverage, is now unreachable, with a voicemail box too full to accept messages.

Michael Oliva, a campaign consultant who worked for the Ocasio-Cortez campaign and has been helping since her victory on a volunteer basis, says the key to Ocasio-Cortez’s success will be following up the rhetoric with action.

“I think it’s human nature for Alexandria and the campaign to speak on all these shows,” Oliva said. “What they need to be prepared for is that when the fanfare dies down, they’re going to be confronted with a lot of adult decisions. What I can say is that, first of all, she hasn’t been elected to Congress yet, she won a primary, so she’s not being paid by taxpayers right now to do any specific job, what she’s trying to do is keep her message out there because the people of the district elected her on that message,” Oliva said.

“It can be tough going from a campaign which got little proportional attention to national exposure, but i think they’re handling it pretty well,” he said. “The only caution is that once she becomes a congresswoman she has to make sure she pays attention to the people of her district first and foremost.”

Assuming she wins in November — she faces a poorly-funded Republican challenger in her solidly Democratic district — Ocasio-Cortez would be among the most high-profile progressives joining Congress next year. And that’s likely to be a key bloc in the House if Democrats win back control. But Ocasio-Cortez would also be serving with colleagues who won’t soon forget her support of their primary challengers and her criticism of Democratic leadership.

Among the candidates she’s backing are Ayanna Pressley, who is challenging veteran Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Michael Capuano, and Chardo Richardson, who is up against Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy in Florida.

In the 24 hours after Ocasio-Cortez very publicly backed Pressley, traffic to Pressley’s website grew, new donors and volunteers surfaced and Pressley’s Twitter following grew, said Pressley campaign manager Sarah Groh.

In Kansas, where Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders endorsed Brent Welder in a crowded Democratic primary, the campaign saw an “unprecedented level of interest…from national and local press,” Welder’s campaign manager Shawn Borich told POLITICO.

In addition to gaining more volunteers, the Welder campaign raised $50,000 online from 2000 donations in the week since Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her support — nearly double what it raised the week before in Welder’s bid to take on GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder.

On Monday, Ocasio-Cortez waded in to the Democratic primary for governor in Michigan, tweeting her endorsement of Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a 33-year-old Rhodes Scholar, doctor and former health commissioner of Detroit who would be the first Muslim-American governor in the U.S. Recent polling shows he’s running in last place in a three-way August primary to replace Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

“What her endorsement means for us politically, I think what it says is something about the future of the Democratic Party,” El-Sayed’s campaign manager Adam Joseph told POLITICO. “It’s a little bit younger, it’s a little bit browner, it’s a little bit more progressive.”

El-Sayed quickly turned the endorsement into a press release. “@Ocasio2018 is showing us all how to do it. Thankful for her leadership, grateful for her support, and looking forward to building a more just, equitable, and sustainable America together,” he tweeted.

After Ocasio-Cortez‘s victory, El-Sayed appeared as a guest on CNN with Chris Cuomo, where El-Sayed touted her win as proof that low poll numbers don’t matter. “Fact is, polls this early don’t say anything,” El-Sayed told Cuomo. “If you’d asked about Alexandria’s race, who by the way I just find so inspiring, and what she was able to pull off is amazing, if you’d have looked at her race at this point in her race, the fact is she wouldn’t even have been on the board,” he said.

Roichardson, a 38-year-old ACLU attorney and military veteran who served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, says he’s hoping in Florida to replicate Ocasio-Cortez’s winning formula. In his own bid against a Democratic House incumbent, he’s aiming to turn out voters who usually sit out primaries.

“You’ve got to give them a reason to vote,” he said. “You’ve got to give them a reason to leave work, to wait in that line, and if there’s no reason to do that then it doesn’t matter how many Democrats you’ve got registered.”

“She really did give us what we needed,” he said. “I knew that if she could knock off a giant it would help us all.”