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A whole lot of hard choices are starting to collide for the Republican Party.
Do Republicans stand with their Senate candidate in Alabama, despite mounting questions about sexual impropriety that muddle party messaging and could cost the GOP a seat?
Do they stand behind their tax bill, despite tensions between donor and voter bases as numbers come into clearer view?
Do they stand alongside Democrats to deliver for DREAMers in what might be the only way to avert a government shutdown before Christmas?
And do they stand beside President Donald Trump himself as he winds down a foreign trip that included presidential name-calling for Kim Jong Un and yet more sympathetic words about Vladimir Putin?
Embedded in each of these questions are months’ worth of skirmishes and reckonings avoided. Nothing has gotten easier for the governing party in the meantime.
Party leaders are going to plead for unity in the coming days.
But unity for unity’s sake is unlikely to last the year – much less into the midterm elections.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
The Democratic Senate candidate in Alabama, Doug Jones, may still be the underdog, but last week’s headlines about his opponent reshuffled the deck.
It will be interesting to see how Democrats respond.
Democrats have said they are building back a 50-state party. Investing in ruby-red Alabama could perhaps prove that.
Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez did not say outright he thought Jones could win, instead Perez pointed to recent local victories in Virginia and Oklahoma and told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz the party has shown it can win “everywhere.”
After the news broke, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., penned a fundraising email for Jones. Adam Green, co-founder of Progressive Change Campaign Committee which coordinated the email, told ABC News he thought other groups on the left would soon jump in.
“Two things are leading many groups who were watching and waiting to get into this fight. First, the scandal has quickly led to polls showing this a competitive race, and second, Doug Jones is someone very credible back home while also having a record of fighting for justice that progressives can get behind,” he wrote and added that his team raised tens of thousands of dollars over the weekend.
But could an influx of outside money backfire?
Democrats watched with agony as Republicans in the Georgia 6th Congressional District special election last summer successfully tied their candidate to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and made the race about national politics.
Staying out of the limelight in the last few weeks also could be strategic.
The TIP with Arlette Saenz and Meridith McGraw
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro predicts candidates representing a “new generation” will emerge in the upcoming midterm and presidential elections.
“I think that 2018 and 2020 you’re going to see an emergence of more young people, relatively young people that are running for office everywhere, and they’re competing for governorships, senatorships and even the presidency that represent a new generation,” Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, told a group of reporters recently.
The 43-year-old Castro (and his twin brother Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas) very well may fit into that “new generation.” Julian Castro recently said he “might” run for president in 2020, and he’s shown early signals typically associated with presidential ambitions — forming a PAC (“Opportunity First”) and working on a memoir, which he expects to be released in late 2018.
Asked if his book tour might take him to the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, Castro grinned and said, “Who knows…”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY:
42 Republican senators have now weighed in on the allegations, first published in the Washington Post, that Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore engaged in sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old girl in the 1970s. Many have withdrawn their support and said that Moore should step aside, even though his name will still be on the ballot. Moore continues to deny the allegations.
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway says Roy Moore should step aside if the allegations against him are true and that the conduct described “should disqualify anyone from serving in public office.”
Despite the loss of support from big names in Washington, some of Roy Moore’s supporters in Alabama say they believe him when he says he didn’t do anything wrong.
President Trump met with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, attended a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. He has a private meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull.
The Senate Finance Committee kicks off its markup of its version of the House Republicans’ tax reform bill.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“So let me go a little step farther, if there’s anyone currently in public office who has behaved that way to any girl or any woman, maybe they should step aside, because in a country of 330 million people, we ought to be able to do better than this.” – White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway to Martha Raddatz on allegations against Roy Moore.
NEED TO READ
Roy Moore vows to complete Senate run amid sexual assault allegation. When asked on Sunday night whether Moore would step aside if President Trump were to ask him to, Moore’s senior campaign adviser Brett Doster said: “No. Nothing is getting him out. He’s not going anywhere.” (Tom Llamas and J.J. Gallagher) http://abcn.ws/2zCMPyv
Human rights ‘briefly came up’ during Trump-Duterte meeting: White House. Human rights was discussed “briefly” during President Trump’s first one-on-one meeting with controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Monday on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines, according to the White House. (Jordyn Phelps) http://abcn.ws/2jkKF0l
Trump to make ‘major’ announcement on North Korea, trade deals after Asia trip. President Trump says he will announce the results of his trade talks on this trip and make a statement regarding North Korea when he returns to Washington later this week. (Devin Dwyer) http://abcn.ws/2huhh7x
Trump says he agrees Russia meddled in election. President Trump is now saying that he believes the U.S. intelligence community report that said Russia meddled in the 2016 election, despite previously saying he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says that Russia did not try to interfere. (Jordyn Phelps) http://abcn.ws/2zCDnZO
Democrats back veterans as candidates to take back the House. Democrats are placing their bets on military veterans as candidates in 30 or 40 races in the 2018 midterm election, a big uptick as part of their strategy to take back the majority in the House. (MaryAlice Parks) http://abcn.ws/2jmbGAF
State Department offers buyouts as critics charge Trump administration with destroying diplomatic corps. A State Department official confirms to ABC News that the department is offering “voluntary buyouts and early retirement incentives” as part of its effort to reduce its own ranks. The Trump administration wants to get rid of 641 employees — in addition to “normal attrition” — by the end of 2018, in particular “to reduce unnecessary supervisory levels and organizational layering,” the official said. (Conor Finnegan) http://abcn.ws/2yRL3KB
How to feed 800 million people. The upcoming battle over the 2018 Farm Bill could lead to a debate over how the U.S. provides food assistance to the UN. The U.S. is the largest contributor to international food aid that helps the roughly 815 million people around the world who are chronically malnourished. (Matt Seyler) http://abcn.ws/2yQDR1f
Inside the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ where McCain was held. ABC News’ Jonathan Karl explores the Hanoi Hilton where Sen. John McCain was a prisoner of war for five years after his plane was shot down in 1967. The hotel is now a museum. http://abcn.ws/2zALOa1
Jeff Sessions sued by 12-year-old girl with epilepsy. The attorney general is facing a lawsuit from 12-year-old Alexis Bortell, and other plaintiffs, who hope to legalize medical marijuana nationwide. According to the suit Alexis has relied on marijuana since she was 7 to control epileptic seizures. (M.L. Nestel) http://abcn.ws/2yUNOuZ
The New York Times chronicles sexual harassment scandals in state capitols. The recent wave of sexual harassment scandals have highlighted troublesome cultures in statehouses from California to Florida, leading to swift consequences for some elected officials. http://nyti.ms/2zDtoDC
Lack of support from Washington can’t force Moore to step aside. The Washington Post’s Paul Kane writes that even calls from national Republican figures can’t force Roy Moore to back out of the Alabama Senate race amid allegations that he initiated a sexual relationship with a minor, another sign that Washington institutions may have lost power in the new political world. http://wapo.st/2zSSUrE