The Daily 202: Many African Americans unenthusiastically ‘settle’ for Hillary Clinton – Washington Post

With Breanne Deppisch


RALEIGH, N.C.—Ayana McAllister went to Hillary Clinton’s rally two weekends ago at St. Augustine’s University, the historically-black school where she’s a freshman. She watched the Democratic nominee speak alongside the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Sandra Bland. But on the eve of the election, the 18-year-old is still not 100 percent sold.

“I don’t know,” said McAllister, a native of Largo, Md. “I feel like I’ve got to settle for Hillary. I feel like I’m going to vote because I know I need to, not because I want to. I feel like neither of them should be president, but I feel like Hillary will be better. Really, it’s like two children arguing back and forth.”

This was a common refrain during interviews at yesterday’s football game here between St. Augustine and crosstown rival Shaw University, another historically-black institution.

Early voting numbers and polling suggest that African American turnout is down nationally this year compared to 2012 and 2008. Though there are some signs that the gap has been closing in recent days, alarm bells have clearly gone off inside the Clinton high command.

– Many students at the schools here in Raleigh regret that they never got to vote for Barack Obama. They are collectively disappointed that their first time forces them to choose between Clinton and Donald Trump, but they plan to vote nonetheless. In fact, teachers have told them that in lieu of class they will march to the polls on Tuesday.

“I am not a fan of either one, but of the two I will probably be voting for Hillary,” said Anoviua Rush, a freshman from Durham.She’s just a liar. And Hillary is not even good at backing up her lies. Everyone makes mistakes, but when you try to cover them up it’s a problem.”

As a marching band performed behind her, under a cloudless sky on a perfect fall day, Rush explained that the prospect of electing the first woman president does not motivate her, but Clinton’s support for equal pay legislation does. “She’s more understanding of minorities and what we go through,” said Rush. “I’m not going to say he’s ‘racist,’ but he’s said some messed up stuff about minorities. … Donald’s main focus seems to be helping the wealthy and, I’ll say it, possibly Caucasians.”

– “A lot of people are very discouraged. Very, very discouraged,” said Felishia McPherson, 47, who was wearing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt. “Really, it’s like you’re choosing between a liar and a clown. But who doesn’t lie? We all lie. … I’m a mental health counselor. I know that, psychologically, in order to want to be president, you’ve got to be a little narcissistic to start with. … Trump was never an option for me. I don’t love Hillary, but I don’t have to. She’s not coming to my house. She’s going to the White House.

McPherson already voted early for Clinton. She brought her seven-year-old niece Malia, named after the president’s daughter, to Obama’s rally in Fayetteville on Friday. “I don’t know if I actually believe in the political system, as far as does my one vote count? But I’m not going to take a chance of it not counting,” she explained afterward. “If the system really does work, then I’m going to participate. If it doesn’t, then I still did the best I could by my ancestors. … I do believe, with Obama’s encouragement, even though we may not believe in the system, we know we need to do it.”

– Several elderly African Americans expressed deep concern that millennials, including their grandchildren, do not sufficiently appreciate the importance of voting. Irene Hill-Thomas, 79, is a retired special education teacher who now spends most of her time volunteering at church and a food pantry in Sampson County. “If you’ve been around long enough, your eyes are open,” she said. “You appreciate it because you fought for it. The younger generation hasn’t been there. They don’t know. The younger generation doesn’t understand there was a time when we had to sit at the back of the bus and had no say so. … I remember the white and the colored fountains. They don’t.”

– North Carolina was the closest state Obama won in 2008 and the closest state he lost in 2012. African Americans accounted for 23 percent of the electorate both times, and Obama won almost all of them.

Reflecting the importance of the 15 electoral votes up for grabs in North Carolina, and the strategic significance of the Research Triangle specifically, both candidates will return to Raleigh on Monday. Trump will give an afternoon speech at the state fairgrounds, and Clinton will hold the final rally of her campaign here — at midnight.

– Another very important explanation for why African American turnout is down in North Carolina: Republicans have worked to limit early voting locations and hours. The executive director of the state Republican Party persuaded GOP county officials to limit early voting in troubling emails that have been unearthed by public records requests. He pushed to limit the number of hours sites were open, especially evenings and Sundays, when many African Americans typically cast ballots (after church services).

In the Democratic-leaning county that includes Greensboro – the state’s third largest – there were 16 early voting sites in 2012 during the first week that polls were open. This year there was just one. So while 61,000 people voted during the first week four years ago, only 8,000 did this year. (After that first week, 25 voting sites were opened and turnout records were broken.)

– I shadowed a field staffer from the AFL-CIO affiliate group Working America as she canvassed in a predominantly black section of Raleigh yesterday afternoon. Walking across lawns in a hilly neighborhood just off Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Andrea Vogler urged folks to go vote.

During a period of just one hour, though, half a dozen African Americans separately complained that they tried to vote early but the lines were too long. So they came home. They all said they hope to still go on Tuesday, but what if the lines are long then too? Will they stick around?

A woman in a nurse’s uniform said she went by the early voting site three times over the past week, but the lines were too long each time.

A younger man named Victor came to his door in red-checkered pajamas. He had gone earlier in the day too but said he was too tired to stand around. He works a night shift, so he said he’s going to try voting on his drive home from work at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday – which he hopes will be before a crowd forms.

“I’ve heard that on a couple of different days now,” Vogler, 32, lamented as she walked to the next house. “On the one hand, it is good people are trying to vote. On the other, I hope it doesn’t deter anyone from actually voting.”

A woman named Barbara, pulling out of her driveway in a Chevy Trailblazer with her infant son in the backseat, is one of the people who gave up when she saw the lines.

Damien, her husband, was who Vogler had come to talk with. Barbara warned her that he was sleeping. But every vote counts, so the canvasser went to knock on the door anyway. He was nonplussed. “I worked all damn night, 12 hours,” he said, his eyes bloodshot. “I just want to go back to my bed.” She tried to hand him a piece of paper with bullet points on why he should vote for Clinton. He grimaced and refused to take it.

Working America has about 700 field staffers farmed out across nine states. They have had 573,400 conversations with voters since launching this summer, including 45,500 in North Carolina. In the Raleigh area alone, the labor group had seven vans with five to seven people in each hitting doors on Saturday. The group largely targets African American and Latino voters, though some swing white Republicans are in their universe.

An older man sitting in his green Chevy Lumina, picking his teeth with a toothpick outside a row of ground-level studio apartments, told Vogler that he planned to vote later in the afternoon. She informed him that early voting had ended for the day, and that Saturday was the final opportunity until Tuesday. “Damn,” he replied.

“North Carolina is the most important state,” Vogler stressed over and over again. “You’ve got to get out to vote!”

In an interview late last night, I asked Democratic Senate candidate Deborah Ross – who is in a neck-and-neck race with Sen. Richard Burr that may decide which party controls the majority – about all these people who said they did not vote early because of the lines. “It’s by design,” she complained. But she argued that this will also galvanize many African Americans on Tuesday. “I don’t think anything is going to keep people from voting this year,” she said.

Ross, a former state representative who sponsored 2007 legislation allowing for same-day voter registration (which was pivotal to Obama carrying the state a year later), noted that, for every person who returned home when they saw the crowded early voting sites, many more waited around. “There were people who stood for hours in line,” she said.

The weather forecast for Tuesday looks good, and she believes this might make the difference in her “razor thin” race. “I think we’re going to see long lines on Election Day,” Ross predicted, with a southern twang. “We’re going to turn people out.”

A Clinton campaign official, speaking anonymously, said they were worried during the first week of early voting, but the fact that hundreds of additional sites wound up opening for the second week made the situation much better and led to a huge increase in turnout. But allies say Clinton may need to perform especially well on Election Day to offset votes that were lost over the past two weeks.

Surrogates have also streamed into the state to drive African Americans to the polls. Civil rights icon John Lewis headlined a march in Charlotte on Thursday. Cory Booker came Friday night. Other efforts are underway too. The national president of the Sierra Club was outside the St. Augustine’s football game handing out biscuits from Bojangles’ and urging young people to support Clinton in order to advance environmental issues.

– The president himself has now spoken at five rallies for Clinton in North Carolina. Addressing a crowd of 2,500 that was probably 95 percent black in Fayetteville on Friday, he made a very explicit pitch. “Right now, Donald Trump is calling on his supporters to monitor ‘certain areas’ on Election Day,” Obama said. “I don’t know what ‘certain areas’ he’s talking about, but you do.”

He finished his speech with the story of a 100-year-old woman who was purged from the North Carolina voter rolls after a Republican challenged her registration status on flimsy grounds. Grace Bell Hardison was mentioned in an NAACP lawsuit that prompted a federal judge to issue an injunction on Friday. North Carolina election officials are now scrambling to restore the rights of thousands of voters – most black and Democratic — who had been cut from the rolls under a so-called “individual challenge law.”

“So, young people, I want you to understand this,” Obama said. “It wasn’t that long ago when folks had to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar (or) the number of bubbles on a bar of soap. It wasn’t that long ago folks were beaten trying to register voters in Mississippi. … If you’ve been marching for criminal justice reform, that’s great. But you still need to vote! … If you vote, we’ll win North Carolina. And if we win North Carolina, Hillary Clinton will be president.”


– Trump was rushed offstage during a campaign rally in Reno last night after a man reportedly yelled “gun,” but the GOP nominee emerged back onstage after a brief period to finish his speech. Secret Service officials said agents apprehended the man but found no weapon. The man, who identified himself as Austyn Crites, 33, was reportedly released after the event, telling reporters that he was attacked for holding a “Republicans against Trump” sign. “When I pulled out the sign, people around me were trying to grab the sign,” Crites said. “And so all that was occurring was booing, of course. That’s what you would expect.” He said that the crowd tackled him, and began “kicking me and grabbing me in the crotch and just, just beating the crap out of me.” (Jose A. DelReal, Anne Gearan and Ed O’Keefe have more.)

– Donald Trump Jr. and top campaign social media aide Dan Scavino immediately retweeted unsubstantiated claims that Trump had just survived an attack on his life: “Hillary ran away from the rain today. Trump is back onstage minutes after assassination attempt,” the tweet read.

– Meanwhile, a man wearing a mask and carrying a gun was arrested near the White House following a struggle with authorities. Immediate details surrounding the incident are unclear, but the Secret Service says he’s being charged with carrying a firearm without a license, carrying unregistered ammunition, resisting arrest and committing a crime while wearing a mask. (Martin Weil)

– A press bus following Tim Kaine in Tampa was hit “at high speed” on Sunday evening, according to several people onboard. One reporter said the bus was hit by what appeared to be a police car. But there were no reports of injuries and the bus continued. Kaine was several cars ahead of the press bus, according to reporters in his motorcade.


– Our WaPo/ABC News tracking poll finds Clinton leading Trump nationally by five points — 48 percent to 43 percent – widening last week’s tight race as she shows clear advantages on several personal attributes:

  • On questions of character, Clinton leads Trump in four out of five categories. Voters prefer her personality and temperament (58-32) and her qualifications (55-36). She also leads on questions of which candidate has a better understanding of the “problems of people like you” and is seen as having stronger morals.
  • Enthusiasm for each candidate remains about equal, though many Trump voters continue to see their vote as a referendum on Clinton. 55 percent of Clinton backers say they’re voting for the Democratic nominee to support her candidacy, while more Trump voters say they’re supporting him mainly because they oppose Clinton.

– The Wall Street Journal/NBC poll finds Clinton up a similar four points (44-40). Clinton’s lead is less than half of the 11-point advantage she held in their mid-October survey, taken before the FBI email announcement. A wide swath of Trump’s support also comes from within his own party, as Republican voters rally around the nominee in the final stretch of the campaign.

– A Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll shows Trump with a seven point lead in IOWA, up three points from last month.

– A Columbus Dispatch poll shows Clinton eking out a single point lead over Trump in OHIO (48-47). Pollster Darrel Rowland says Clinton will “almost certainly” carry Ohio should enough young and minority voters show up to the polls. The same poll has Rob Portman crushing Ted Strickland by 21 points (58-37).LeBron James will appear alongside Clinton in Cleveland today on the final day of early in-person voting in OHIO.

– The CBS News battleground tracker has Trump up 46-45 in OHIO and a 45-45 tie in FLORIDA. 

– A Morning Call/Muhlenberg College survey shows Clinton retaining a six point lead in PENNSYLVANIA (48-42).


Trump today: Sioux City, Iowa; Minneapolis; Sterling Heights, Michigan; Moon Township, Penn.; and Leesburg, Va.

Trump tomorrow: Sarasota, Fla.; Raleigh, N.C.; Scranton, Pa.; and Manchester, N.H. 

Clinton today: Philadelphia; Cleveland; Manchester, N.H.

Clinton tomorrow: Pittsburgh; Grand Rapids, Philadelphia, Raleigh. 

– What’s with the 11th-hour fluidity? Karen Tumulty and Dan Balz note that four states have dominated the Clinton campaign’s calculation throughout the fall: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. “Obama won those four in 2008 and all of them but North Carolina in 2012. Until recently, it appeared that Trump needed to sweep all four to overcome Clinton’s electoral-map advantage. But as the race has tightened, Ohio seems to have moved into the Republican column, and other states outside those four have potentially come into play. The GOP nominee is looking to states including Michigan (and) New Hampshire … to make up a potential deficit, should he not win Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. … In Trump’s case, it is an effort to grab what he considers emerging opportunities in the sprint for the finish line; in Clinton’s, as insurance against surprises Tuesday in territory she has considered hers.” (The Post’s politics team lists the 15 states that will decide the election on Tuesday, breaking down the state of the race in each one.) 

– Why is Michigan getting so much late attention? Hillary campaigned in Detroit on Friday, and she’s coming back to Grand Rapids tomorrow while Barack Obama flies to Ann Arbor. Bill is stumping in Lansing at 1 p.m. today. Remember that HRC unexpectedly lost the state’s primary to Bernie Sanders in March, despite every poll putting her significantly ahead. Trump and Pence are also both going there. Fourteen percent of the electorate is African American.

– The Clinton campaign is trying to downplay its late efforts in Michigan. “Look, if we hold onto Nevada (and) hold onto Michigan, then Hillary Clinton is going to be the next President of the United States,” John Podesta said on Meet the Press this morning. “Most people vote on election day in Michigan, so our schedule has been oriented to being in the early vote states, in the earlier period of time.” Stephen Neuman, a senior adviser to the Democratic coordinated campaign in Michigan, noted that the campaign already has 35 offices. A Washington Post average of recent polls in the state has Clinton leading Trump in Michigan just 43 percent to 41 percent. Mook acknowledged that polls have has tightened in Michigan, but added: “I feel very confident about how we’re going to do.” (John Wagner and Anne Gearan)

– Trump seems to have given up on Wisconsin. Aides told me last week that he’d probably go back multiple times, including to the Milwaukee suburbs. He’s not even going to come back once to the Badger State. But now he’s going to Minnesota (where he has absolutely not a snowball’s chance). The campaign said it has done polling there, but Maggie Haberman of the Times tweeted that this is a lie.

– The latest indignity for the Speaker –> “Trump cancels Wisconsin rally just as Paul Ryan says he would campaign with him,” by Jessie Opoien in the Madison Capital Times“For the second time in as many months, the possibility of a joint Paul Ryan-Donald Trump campaign appearance was floated and quickly yanked away. The Republican nominee earlier this week scheduled a Sunday afternoon rally in West Allis, just outside Milwaukee. It was to be Trump’s sixth Wisconsin event since he lost the state’s primary election. ‘We don’t know if it’s scheduled firm or not yet, but I intend to do it if he’s here,’ Ryan told reporters Saturday when asked if he would attend the Trump rally. … ‘If our nominee comes, we’ll campaign with him.’ … Seconds later, a spokesman for Trump’s Wisconsin campaign alerted reporters that the event had been canceled.” (Ryan stumped alongside Mike Pence yesterday.)

– But perplexingly Trump and Pence have not given up on VIRGINIA, adding several stops and deploying key surrogates. “Trump’s decision to appear in a populous, purple Washington exurb cuts against his broader strategy of running up the vote in heavily red, rural areas,” Laura Vozzella writes. “Much of his last-minute appeals have been in tiny burgs like Selma, N.C., population 6,000. His foray into Northern Virginia appears to be a bid to hold down Clinton’s margins in a region that, excluding the exurbs, leans heavily Democratic.”

– Bigger picture: Trump’s schedule belies the biggest challenge facing him right now. It’s not clear where and how he would win. “Of all of [Trump’s must-win] states, the only one where Mr. Trump has really been close in the polls is Nevada,” writes The Upshot’s Nate Cohn“But Nevada is also the state where we know the most about the results because of early voting, and it hasn’t brought good news for Mr. Trump. … Perhaps Mr. Trump will mount a huge comeback in Nevada on Election Day. Or maybe Democrats are much weaker among registered Democrats or unaffiliated voters than most analysts believe. But if Mrs. Clinton does indeed have a big advantage in Nevada, then his chances start looking very bleak: He’s at a disadvantage in the polls of all of the other states that could put him over the top. What’s more, it’s not really clear where he has his best chance — something reflected in Mr. Trump’s unfocused pre-election push.”


– A deep dive on the national mood: Fifteen of our reporters traveled the country talking to voters and report on “deep anxiety – and some lingering traces of optimism”: “Only eight years after millions of Americans poured into the streets in spontaneous, joyful celebration of the election of the nation’s first black president, optimism seems to have been sucked out of the country’s marrow, replaced by a heavy anxiety, a sense that things aren’t right and can’t easily be fixed.”

– Early voting trends in FLORIDA appear to (narrowly) favor Clinton: “The Democrats’ lead of 7,280 ballots cast pales in comparison to their advantage of about 104,000 early and absentee votes four years ago, however the state’s voter rolls have shifted significantly and neither Republicans nor Democrats can lay claim to having a clear advantage,” Politico’s Marc Caputo writes.

“I think it’s trending well for HRC, but it’s definitely a toss up state,” says Democratic consultant Steve Schale, who helped lead Obama’s efforts in the Sunshine State in 2008 and 2012. (Read his latest memo on the early vote.)

Jon Ralston, the dean of the NEVADA press corps, predicts a deep blue wave in the notoriously-hard-to-poll Silver State: “Trump may have been here this weekend, believing in the polls that show him ahead or competitive here. But like Bruce Willis in ‘The Sixth Sense’ (spoiler alert), he does not realize he is dead. The Democratic early voting effort, which was much more difficult with a nominee so many Democrats don’t like or trust, has been impressive — a valedictory statement from The Reid Machine. Yes, 2016 is not 2012. Hillary Clinton is not Barack Obama. Plenty of votes will be cast Tuesday. But: About two-thirds of the votes already have been banked. If the past is prologue … The only real question, I think, is how deep the blue wave goes.”

– The Supreme Court moved to allow an ARIZONA “ballot collection” law barring organizers from picking up ballots and delivering them to election stations. The move is an eleventh-hour blow to Democrats, who argue that the ruling could disenfranchise thousands of minority voters. (CNN

– Chris Christie canceled four NEW HAMPSHIRE stops on behalf of Trump yesterday, following the convictions of two former top aides for their role in the 2013 Bridgegate scandal. The New Jersey governor is doing an interview today with Charlie Rose to try cleaning up the mess. Imagine is Christie was the Republican nominee, and those convictions got handed down the Friday before the election? (WMUR)

– Faithless elector alert: A WASHINGTON state Democratic elector said he is refusing to vote for Clinton even if she wins the popular vote, facing the potential of a $1,000 fine. He told the AP he “doesn’t care.” This could matter if the election is really close.

– Some are still Bernie or Bust: Sanders went to Iowa State University in Ames yesterday to lead a rally for Clinton. One of the warm-up speakers was Kaleb Vanfosson, the president of the Young Democratic Socialists group at the school. He was supposed to give a speech about the need for unity, but instead he took the stage and started talking about how “terrible” Hillary is. “She is so trapped in the world of the elite,” the sophomore in political science said. “She has completely lost grip of what it’s like to be an average person.” He added that there was no point in voting for the “lesser of two evils.” It took about a minute of this before a Clinton staffer escorted him off the stage. Here’s the story from the student paper. And here’s the video:

– The AP released its final electoral forecast this morning:

  • TOSS-UP: Florida, Maine 2nd District, Nebraska 2nd District, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah (74 total electoral votes).
  • LEANS DEMOCRATIC: Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia (74 total electoral votes).
  • LEANS REPUBLICAN: Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Missouri (46 total electoral votes).
  • SOLID DEMOCRATIC: California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington state (200 total electoral votes).
  • SOLID REPUBLICAN: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wyoming (144 total electoral votes).


– Tim Kaine made headlines after suggesting that some inside the FBI are “actively working” to support Trump’s campaign. From Ed O’Keefe: In a Miami interview, Kaine called the FBI a “leaky sieve” and accused Jim Comey of breaking protocol by announcing his email investigation so close to an election. He also dismissed Trump ally Rudy Giuliani’s decision to back off claims that he, Giuliani, had been given advance notice of the FBI’s plans to possibly reopen the Clinton investigation. “I don’t think Giuliani’s walk-back is credible,” the Virginia senator said, referring to Giuliani’s preemptive announcement that the FBI had a “big announcement” to come. “I think the FBI sadly has become like a leaky sieve,” he added.

– New York Times, “If Clinton Moves to Oval Office, Aides’ Baggage May Be Heavy,” by Matt Flegenheimer and Mark Landler: “In the final sprint of her campaign, troubled by an F.B.I. inquiry and narrowing polls, [Clinton] has held tightly to a handful of advisers who have spent their careers protecting her interests, defending her reputation, and at times sullying it — and their own. And if she wins on Tuesday, the most telling test of Mrs. Clinton’s transition back to power will arrive quickly: After a campaign season often defined by voters’ weariness with and distrust of her, which old hands will — or should — follow her into the Oval Office? Almost no top adviser has been left untouched by the two central firestorms of Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy: the inquiry into her use of a private email server … and the WikiLeaks hack of [campaign chairman John Podesta]. The unvarnished view of infighting in the stolen documents is unlikely to bother Mrs. Clinton much, friends say. The political wisdom of importing excess baggage to the executive branch is another matter.”

– Boston Globe A1, “9 moments that molded the campaign,” by Matt Viser and Annie Linskey: “When planning the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, Clinton campaign officials didn’t initially include Michelle Obama as a featured speaker, according to a Democratic strategist familiar with the plans. … For Clinton’s campaign, it made sense to put her on the rostrum on the tumultuous opening day — when Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were both to speak. ‘We thought it would be hard for Sanders’ people to boo Michelle Obama,’ said the person, who isn’t authorized to talk about the first lady’s deliberations.” Another revelation: The Trump campaign was warned months in advance to be ready for Clinton’s attack over Alicia Machado but did nothing.

– New Yorker, “Meet Maya Harris, Hillary Clinton’s Progressive Link,” by Emily Greenhouse: “To speak with those who have worked with Harris is to be bulldozed with superlatives. Mary Kay Henry, the president of the Service Employees International Union, who worked with Harris recently on the Democratic Party platform, told me that ‘she lives her life on a moral crusade on all of those justice issues … She carries her peeps, our peeps, with her in everything she does.’ Beyond policy, Harris seems to offer, in her very person, solutions to some of Clinton’s image problems.”


– The owners of the National Enquirer reportedly paid to shield Trump from allegations of a former Playboy model who claims they had an affair, paying $150,000 for rights to her story before declining to publish it. From the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Palazzolo, Michael Rothfeld and Lukas I. Alpert: “The tabloid-newspaper publisher reached an agreement in early August with Karen McDougal, the 1998 Playmate of the Year. American Media Inc., which owns the Enquirer, hasn’t published anything about what she has told friends was a consensual romantic relationship she had with Mr. Trump in 2006. At the time, Mr. Trump was married to his current wife, Melania. Quashing stories that way is known in the tabloid world as ‘catch and kill.’ In a written statement, the company said it wasn’t buying Ms. McDougal’s story for $150,000, but rather two years’ worth of her fitness columns and magazine covers as well as exclusive life rights to any relationship she has had with a then-married man.” Trump and American Media Owner CEO David Pecker are longtime friends.

– Melania stumped alongside her husband in North Carolina, calling him a “compassionate, giving … loving” man, she said, who “cares so deeply about this country.”


– “In America’s democratic showcase, the world sees a model of what not to do,” by Griff Witte: “In the seaside cafes of Beirut, the whole thing looks ‘like a bad joke.’ To persecuted journalists in Burundi, it amounts to ‘a total loss of dignity.’ The government-scripted press of Beijing diagnoses ‘an empire moving downhill.’ And the spin doctors of the Kremlin see cause for pure and unambiguous delight. The U.S. presidential election — America’s quadrennial chance to showcase for the world how democracy works in the most powerful nation on Earth — has become instead an object lesson in everything that ails a country long seen as a beacon of freedom and hope. People in small and distant countries who count on the U.S. to stand up for democratic values have been astonished to see essential components … trammeled. Long-standing allies have been left to wonder … whether the U.S. can be relied on when it counts. And even though the campaign still has days to go — with the outcome very much in doubt — the damage to American moral standing may already be done.”

Quote du jour: “America always spoke to Arab countries as if they had so much to learn,” said a 27-year-old Beirut café worker, who says he has been closely watching the election ever since he read about Trump’s sexual assault boasts. “And now we see their own democracy involves choosing between a woman from a dynasty and a man who says the system is manipulated. If that’s democracy, then we don’t want it.”

– The New York Times’ Farah Stockman and Nick Corasaniti explore how this loss of luster could affect the American brand: “In interviews, Americans who travel overseas and foreign observers say that tourists who once felt themselves the envy of the world now feel the sting of embarrassment. Businesses that once marketed their jeans and fleece jackets internationally as tiny pieces of the American dream are being advised to revamp their ad campaigns.” An Australian public relations consultant noted that state lawmakers in Sydney recently adopted a resolution – by unanimous consent – describing Trump as “a revolting slug” unfit for office.


– The idea that Tuesday will end our partisan rancor is a “naïve fantasy,” writes Frank Bruni:“There’s no end here, just a punctuation mark, a measly comma between the rancor that has built until this point and the fury to come. And there’s no way to un-see what all of us have seen over these last 18 months, to bottle up what has been un-bottled. Election Day will redeem and settle nothing, not this time around. Whether balloons fall on [Clinton] or [Trump], there will be bolder divisions in America than there were at the start of it all and even less faith in the country’s most important institutions … Even putting Trump’s angry troops aside, it feels as if we’re coming out of this election with four parties: the Paul Ryan Republicans, the Freedom Caucus, the establishment Democrats and the Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders brigade … Meet the new paralysis, same as the old paralysis. Potentially, worse. From elections past, I don’t recognize this terrain. How can I assume that it’s navigable?”

– “If [Trump] loses, the party faces a daunting reconstruction challenge,” says conservative columnist Peter Wehner, who served in the Bush and Reagan administrations: “Policies that promote economic growth, social mobility and greater opportunity are important. But in some respects the party’s stance [here] is a secondary priority. Republicans need to wrestle with more fundamental questions first: Will their party choose as its leaders people who respect democratic institutions and traditions, or not; who conceive of America as a welcoming society or as one that is racially and religiously closed … who abhor ignorance or embrace it? In a post-Trump world, Republicans need to ask themselves if their party will be characterized by its aspirations or its resentments. Can it make its own inner peace with living in an increasingly diverse and nonwhite America? Does it conceive of its role as tamping down or inflaming ugly passions? Does it believe in a just social order or not? The next few months will tell us a lot about whether Mr. Trump and Trumpism were an anomaly or are now the new norm of the party that Lincoln helped create.”

– “When historians write about this bizarre, ugly and dispiriting campaign … the epic dark saga will unfold this way: A man, filled with fear and insecurity, created a hatemongering character and followed it out the window. And a woman, filled with fear and insecurity, hunkered down and repeated bad patterns rather than reimagining herself in an open, bold way,” Maureen Dowd writes. “Before he jumped into the presidential race, Trump was seen as bombastic, vulgar, a bit of a buffoon and a cave man, but [also] ‘a cheeky brio.’ He was not regarded as a bigot or demagogue. He was seen as a playboy, not a predator … But he created another character for the Republican primaries, playing to the feral instincts of angry voters, encouraging violence at his rallies, hatred toward journalists and disrespect for democracy itself. ‘He’s so used to playing a role in different areas of his life,’ said [TV personality] Donny Deutsch … ‘He saw the crowd’s adulation and it drove him. He started to get the biggest cheers for saying the most offensive things.’”

The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin dubbed this election “Clinton investigation mania, part two”: “Bill Clinton’s Presidency was defined, for the most part, by criminal and congressional investigations,” he writes. “The subjects of those probes sound like entries in a nineteen-nineties time capsule: Whitewater, Filegate, Travelgate … It may be that Republicans spent so much time in pursuit of Bill Clinton’s scalp because things were mostly going well otherwise. The economy boomed, and the nation was at peace. So Congress took a vacation from its responsibilities to investigate a decade-old Arkansas land deal in which the Clintons lost money. But real dangers abound in the unstable world of today. The economy is only tenuously prosperous. And a warming planet, notwithstanding the lack of interest among debate moderators, threatens apocalyptic change. A politics based on pursuit and accusation, rather than on reason and compromise, will address none of these problems. And the prospect of four years of governance that resemble the last days of this campaign is one that would drive anyone to drink.”


– “Averting the worst starts with electing Hillary Clinton,” says the New York Times’ Editorial Board. “For many voters that will mean defying Republican efforts to jam the electoral machinery through lies, legal obstructions and the threat of violence. We hope the voters hold out, however intimidating the process and long the lines. For Americans who may feel unmoved or unwilling to vote for Mrs. Clinton, here is a question from the future: In 2016 we were closer than ever to electing an ignorant and reckless tyrant — what did you do to stop him? There’s no sense complaining anymore. The hurricane is three days from landfall. The urgent thing now is to avert the worst, minimize the damage, save the foundations, clear the mess.”

– “The Wall Street Journal hasn’t endorsed a presidential candidate since 1928, and if we didn’t endorse Ronald Reagan we aren’t about to revive the practice for Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump,” the Journal’s board declares. “A broken Washington needs to be shaken up and refocused on the public good, and who better to do it than an outsider beholden to neither political party? If only that reform possibility didn’t arrive as a flawed personality who has few convictions and knows little about the world.”


– South Korean prosecutors arrested two former aides of President Park Geun-hye on Sunday, widening an investigation into the bizarre “shadow president” scandal that has stoked outrage across the country. On Saturday, tens of thousands of people gathered in the capital to demand she step down. (AP)

– A Kurdish-led, U.S. backed force in Syria launched an offensive to retake control of Raqqa, seeking to drive out Islamic State militants from their northeastern stronghold. The operation with the U.S.-supported military effort to seize the Mosul from ISIS militants, Hugh Naylor writes. And the impending assault represents an “intensified international effort” to increase pressure on the extremist group as it loses control of territory in the countries.

– As Chicago battles its highest rate of homicides in nearly 20 years, police are solving fewer cases than they have in decades. Officers today clear just 26 percent of cases – a drastic reduction from years such as 1991, where levels averaged 80 percent. (Kimbriell Kelly, Wesley Lowery and Steven Rich)

– A South Carolina real estate agent accused of kidnapping a woman and keeping her chained up by the neck “like a dog” inside a storage container may be responsible for the deaths of at least seven people, authorities said. Police said they discovered at least one body on the man’s property, and he confessed to a string of other homicides. The gruesome revelations come as a stark contrast to the man’s professional image – appearing to be a successful realtor who ran his own firm upstate. (Amy B Wang)

– Two men in D.C. were arrested for allegedly spray painting the Trump Hotel and the FBI building on Saturday. Police said the incidences occurred during the Million Mask March demonstration. Both men were charged with defacing government property and resisting arrest. (Joe Heim)


– Great profile –> “Founding Fervor,” by Kevin Sullivan:  “More than 250 people, mostly conservative Christians, clap and whoop as [KrisAnne] Hall takes the stage in the ballroom of a suburban Minnesota hotel … Hall, a radio host, former Florida prosecutor and Army veteran, tells the crowd that the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group that tracks extremism, has included her on its list of 998 anti-government groups in the U.S. She just loves that. Hall, 47, started firing up rage at the federal government six years ago, driving around the southeast in her old Saturn car [Now] in this era of [Trump], her message fits the moment, and her popularity has exploded. She is a chief circuit rider for liberty, spending more than 260 days a year preaching against federal government overreach.  She says those who disagree with her reading of history are either ignorant of the founders’ intentions or ‘federal supremacists’ who ignore the Constitution. ‘The problem with her approach is that it ignores 240 years of history,’ said Georgetown professor David Cole.”

– “Big government is the new West Coast craze,” by Jim Tankersley: “Voters up and down the West Coast are quietly poised to extend a massive economic experiment this Election Day, probing the limits of how much states can soak the big guys to help the little guys. Their efforts — in three of the hottest state economies in the country — defy decades of conservative arguments about cutting taxes to spur economic growth. The new West Coast Model is higher taxes on the rich, higher spending by the state and wide-scale efforts to lift the working poor. … It is on the ballot in three states: Californians are set to essentially make permanent an income tax surcharge on millionaires in order to fund education. Washington voters appear likely to raise their minimum wage statewide to $13.25 an hour … In Oregon, it will be a down-to-the-wire battle to see if voters will bolster their state budget by taxing large corporations. Advocates are already planning how to export them to the rest of the country.”

– “Islamic State tunnels below Mosul are a hidden and deadly danger,” by William Booth and Aaso Ameen Shwan “’They’re everywhere,’ said the Iraqi intelligence officer, sweeping his arm from this ancient Christian village toward the horizon. The Iraqi captain was searching for tunnels dug by Islamic State fighters. The officer stomped on the ground. ‘Here. We found one, then three, now six. Right here.’ … Villages recaptured from ISIS over the past three weeks … have been honeycombed with tunnels, many of them booby-trapped. In the past three days, commanders say Iraqi forces have faced the hardest fighting of the offensive as they entered Mosul, made worse by extensive tunnels that are allowing ISIS fighters to appear seemingly out of nowhere, attack, then retreat to the hidden bunkers. An Iraqi armored commander who drove his Abrams tank into eastern Mosul recalled seeing dozens of fighters scrambling on the street in front of his guns. ‘Then they disappeared,’ he said. Into the ground. ‘It’s like we are fighting two wars in two cities,’ said Col. Falah Al-Obaidi of the Iraqi counterterror forces. ‘There’s the war on the streets and there is a whole city underground where they are hiding.’”

– “Senate majority may hinge on NEVADA candidates unable to break through noise,” by Paul Kane: “The battle for the Senate might well come down to a contest in which neither candidate has broken through the much-louder noise of other political fights. For months, U.S. Rep. Joseph J. Heck and former state attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto have slugged it out in the most expensive Senate race in this state’s history, locked in a tight contest that gives Republicans a chance to steal a Democratic crown jewel: the seat of Senate Minority Leader [Harry Reid]. A Heck victory would make the tenuous path for Republicans to hold the Senate majority easier to navigate. Democrats need four seats to capture the majority if [Clinton] … wins the White House. Yet despite those high stakes, the Senate race here has often felt like an undercard boxing match on the Las Vegas Strip as everyone awaits the main event between the presidential candidates, Clinton and [Trump], who have campaigned and spent heavily in this key swing state.”


The Capital Weather Gang forecasts another gorgeous fall day ahead: “Our spectacular weekend weather continues today. You’ll want to get out and enjoy every minute you can, before the sun sets in the District at 5:02 p.m.! Morning temperatures rise through the 50s and, by afternoon, it doesn’t feel much like November, as highs climb to around 65-70.”


Here’s the final “Saturday Night Live” cold open before the election, with Cecily Strong as Erin Burnett:

Here’s SNL’s “Weekend Update,” featuring “Church Lady” talking about the election:

It’s been a long election season, but there were some great moments; here are a few of our favorites:

Clinton quickly ended her rally in Florida when it began pouring rain:

The Clinton campaign released an 8-minute “mini documentary” about her campaign:

In Denver, Trump said he “doesn’t need” celebrity supporters like Beyoncé and Jay Z:

In light of Trump, Bill Maher said maybe he was too tough on George W. Bush and Mitt Romney:

NH1 asked Elizabeth Warren what she thought about a possible 2018 race with Red Sox legend Curt Schilling:


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