I am joined most Monday mornings in the 6 AM hour by Mike Allen (follow him on Twitter at @MikeAllen) America’s most tireless political reporter. Today we covered the waterfront, with a particular focus on the Senate:
HH: Joined now by Mike Allen of Politico. Follow Mike, @MikeAllen on Twitter. Good morning, Mike, good Monday morning with Mike. As I say, we have every Monday with Mike. How are you?
MA: Happy Monday, Hugh, and I am in Indianapolis. I’m going to be going out today with Gov. Mike Pence. We’re going to head into Ohio and Michigan.
HH: I will be interested to find out as well in the Hoosier State how you think Todd Young is doing. I know the polls say that Evan Bayh as of last Friday had a six point lead, but I’ve heard from my contacts that Todd Young is actually statistically tied in the internal polling and surging. Is that consistent with what you’ve heard?
MA: Yeah, Republicans I’ve talked to say that Todd Young is looking like a winner over Evan Bayh here. And they say that Joe Heck is also looking like a winner in Nevada. And these are both races where you couldn’t have seen this coming. And they attribute the Todd Young victory to a very simple, clear, consistent message by him and his surrogates, whereas from Evan Bayh, there hasn’t been as clear a message. One that people are having a hard time calling is Kelly Ayotte is strong herself, but Trump is just really dragging her down. People are more, Republicans you talk to, are more pessimistic about Ayotte these days just because of Trump. Also, a lot of discouragement about Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, just such headwinds there, so top Republicans, some with a very, very, very long track record, Hugh, told me yesterday that they see a 50% chance that the Senate will be 50/50, with either a Vice President Pence or a Vice President Kaine breaking the tie, a 30% chance that the Senate is 51-49 D, and just a 20% chance that Majority Leader McConnell keeps his job. That’s a real reversal of fortune, and it tracks what’s happened with Trump.
HH: You know, I believe that they are wrong for reasons I discussed on Meet the Press yesterday, which has to do with the closing of the campaign. Trump is now baked in, love him or hate him. It’s baked in. I don’t know how it can actually get any worse for Donald Trump, whereas the Haiti scandal, which we’ll talk about in a moment, and whatever else Russia drops through Wikileaks, the Haiti scandal comes from ABC using FOIA. The Wikileaks, the Russian hit, are many and varied, and we’ll talk about that. But let me begin, Mike Allen, you know, there are thousands of troops advancing on Mosul this morning. Thousands of them are Americans. And America seems to be wholly uninformed that its troops, and this may be because the President Obama-designed strategy is to minimize our footprint there, but I know personally soldiers who are there who are deployed and in harm’s way this morning. Isn’t it odd that America is involved in a great battle and nobody knows it?
MA: Well, Hugh, I’m so glad that you’re highlighting that and making that point. And when I got into my hotel room last night after I watched the literally bitter end of the Packers and Cowboys, at 8:00, turned on Fox News, and there was Bret Baier from the MGM in Las Vegas with a special edition of his show, and he had all this prepared packages about the election, but he said no, our top story is Mosul and dug into that. And I hope that we’re going to see that on other outlets, too, and I’m so happy that you highlighted these brave, creative, courageous Americans who are undertaking this very grim but vital important task, and one that I’m optimistic about.
HH: I am, too. It’s just that usually, Americans pray for their soldiers, but they don’t know that when you’ve got divisions, and I’m talking about entire divisions, we’ve got Special Forces obviously there, but we’ve got regular Army elite units, but regular Army on the ground. I’ll come back to that. Let me go back to the Senate, Mike Allen. I want to go down race results after the Access Hollywood tape dropped ten days ago. So we have on October 11th, Toomey up 4, Rubio up 7. On October 12th, Wednesday, Feingold only up 2 over Ron Johnson, Rubio up 4, Blunt up 2. On Thursday, again, so it’s being baked in over and over and over, Burr up 4, Burr up 2, McGinty up 2 over Toomey in Pennsylvania, Ayotte up 1, Portman up 18 and 17, we knew that, and Mike Lee, of course, up 29 points, so that’s nice. You know, the Democratic counterpart is Ron Wyden in Oregon where he’s up 22. On Friday, October 14th, Rubio up 5. On Saturday, Cortez Masto up 5, that’s Nevada against Joe Heck. And then on Sunday, we get Rubio up 8, and a tie in Nevada. It seems to me, this is apropos of my theory, that like a booster rocket falling away from the capsule, the presidential campaign is the capsule that is going off into orbit. Nobody knows where it’s going. The booster rocket’s falling to Earth where the standard gravitational forces apply of Republican and Democrat in these states, many of which are red. Mike Allen, your take?
MA: No, I think that that’s right, and I think that Rubio’s going to wind up winning by seven or eight. So I think that those numbers are about right. I think there are specific places where that if that gravitational pull remains, and I think New Hampshire and Kelly Ayotte is an example of that, if Kelly Ayotte goes down, Hugh, you’re not going to say that it’s not because of Donald Trump.
HH: It will be because of Donald Trump, yes. Yes, but if she, if Pat Toomey wins in Pennsylvania, I think it will be because Western Pennsylvania, which is a deep blue, that’s Beaver Falls, that’s Sharon, those are seven miles from my house, right, Sharon, where I grew up? Those are traditional Democrat strongholds – Erie. Not Pittsburgh. That’s not going to become Toomey land, but Toomey’s a very good Senator, and I made the argument specifically for him on Meet the Press yesterday based upon the fact that he’s a good guy, people like him, and he’s worked the state for six years, and he has a very weak opponent in McGinty, Mike Allen.
MA: No, you’re right, and I think that’s perfectly put, and it will be a tremendous accomplishment for him to overcome what’s going on in his state, because if you look at the map for Trump, Hugh, it looks just so bleak right now. The AP yesterday put out there list of swing states, and this is a pretty liberal list of swing states. That is, some of these aren’t even really swing states anymore, but their actual toss-ups were Florida, the 2nd district of Maine, the 2nd district of Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah. And Hugh, if Trump were to win every one of those toss-ups, he’d be short at 266. So that’s a tough, weak environment for these Senate candidates, and Drudge yesterday poked a little fun at the Washington Post, which did a piece about taking in the electoral math and whether Hillary Clinton was going to start diverting a little bit of resources to, say, Georgia and Arizona. And he put up the Drudge siren that says Clinton’s already won, and then linked to the Post.
HH: Now Mike Allen, I want to go back to Donald Trump. I made a comparison yesterday. You’re with Governor Pence today. I doubt very much he’s a Game of Thrones watcher, but I compared him to Davos Seaworth, the Onion Knight, who is a very wise and good man in the service of a sometimes erratic, unstable king. In the book, Stannis is very different than he is on the television show, meets with a different end. We don’t know what it is. But on the television show, people immediately jumped and said Stannis is Trump and he’s crazy, and he loses to a blonde woman. No, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about Davos Seaworth, a very loyal guy doing his best to influence a campaign without apparent success. And I’m curious if your reporting is that Mike Pence has been cut loose from Team Trump, to a certain extent, and is existing in his own campaign? And in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the one who calls Hillary Clinton on the night of the election if she wins and Donald Trump doesn’t come back and a concession must be made. Your thoughts?
MA: Well, Hugh, Mike Pence is, they call him the designated driver, or the chaperone here. He’s there to give reassurance to Republicans, and I don’t think that there probably is a lot of communications between the two, but Mike Pence was out on Sunday shows yesterday. Hugh, you have to say that he was pretty well, he was continuing to pretty well defend Trump…
MA: …including trying to clean up for Trump a little bit on the idea that the elections were rigged, trying to put it off on the press and saying that Trump was talking about media bias. Then Trump didn’t accept the help and went on Twitter and took it back. But Pence was trying. When Mike Pence took this job, Hugh, I believe that he took it because he thought that he was going to be able to influence the policy, personnel and thinking of Donald Trump. And one thing I’m going to ask him today is how successful he’s been at that, what difference he thinks that he has made for Donald Trump. What do you think I should ask Mike Pence? How are you feeling about Mike Pence these days?
HH: Whether or not he believes he is advancing the conservative cause on originalism, which I think he is. I think he’s made the Supreme Court argument better than anyone, and that’s why I wanted him on the ticket, and I’m glad he’s on the ticket, because if Donald Trump comes back, and that is not impossible given, and now we have to talk about the Russians and what they’re going to do. He will be very important in this administration on judges and on personnel. It will be a conservative administration. Let me ask you about the Russians. I don’t call it Wikileaks. I call it, because John Schindler taught me this at 20Committee. He’s a former NSA analyst. It’s a Russian front with an accused rapist in an Ecuadorian embassy. Wikileaks is just a Russian intelligence agency operation. But they might have Secretary Clinton’s private emails. If they do, Mike Allen, and they drop those, and it turns out her server was as compromised as I believe it to be, as Mike Morell believes it to have been, will that alter the course of the election? And I’ll combine with that ABC ferreted out the Haiti documents, which means there has to be a special committee to look into the Clinton State Department regardless of who wins, because there was corruption in the Clinton State Department in the awarding of Haiti grants, if these documents are to be believed. What about those two events, Mike Allen?
MA: Hugh, I think it’s hard to see that changing. I think that that element is baked just as much as Trump is for the Senate candidates. I don’t think that there’s anyone out there who is saying oh, I’m going to pull away from Clinton because of one more thing that I find about her emails. Look, the FBI director said that the emails might have been hacked. So I think that people have already taken that into account. It’s hard to see what could possibly come out that would cause someone to move their vote or rethink their vote.
HH: You know why I disagree?
MA: What would your threshold be for what would possibly change someone’s mind about that at this point?
HH: The fact of a massive hack. My friend, Joy Reid, and she is my friend, though she is a lefty and I’m a conservative. I’m her friend. She always says no, there’s no proof, there’s no proof her private emails were hacked. There’s no proof. When proof arrives that her server was hacked, if it arrives, it proves that she was compromising national security in real time. It won’t be the specific email. It will be the recklessness with which she conducted American foreign policy.
MA: Hugh Hewitt. Hugh Hewitt, you are a great lawyer, and you just walked into a trap. Okay, let’s say that happens. Is Joy Reid going to be a Trump voter?
HH: No, but the people that watch AM Joy will realize that her argument is…
MA: I understand.
HH: You know, that’s where I’m going to go with it. Mike Allen, I appreciate your time. Good luck with Governor Pence today. Davos Seaworth, I doubt he’s a Game of Thrones watcher, as I doubt you are, Mike Allen, but that’s who he’s acting like, not to say that Trump is Stannis, but to say that he is Davos Seaworth. Thank you, Mike Allen. Follow him on Twitter, @MikeAllen.
End of interview.