Midterm Update: Trump Pivots To Immigration; Where The Parties Put Their Money
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President Trump wants to eliminate birthright citizenship, it was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. You don't do that. Well, maybe you do and we'll get to that in a minute. But one thing the president actually did do with send troops to the border. In response to a migrate caravan and must McCullough political reporter. I'm Scott Tetreault cover congress. I'm Kelsey Snell. I also cover congress, and I'm Scott Horsely cover the White House. All right. So we are exactly one week away from election day, and this is an election that Donald Trump has really wanted to make about immigration. I would argue for months at this point, Scott Horsely. Why don't you start? We knew that there are over five thousand troops that are being deployed to the US Mexico border in response to the come. Caravan? What exactly can these troops? Do the troops are gonna be playing a support role. They're not going to be a arresting would be border crossers. But they will be supporting the border patrol agents who do that work, basically just beefing up the border patrol can already do in. This is not the only time we've heard about immigration this week from the president. He brought up immigration again in an interview with axios re said that he wants to end birthright citizenship, you can definitely do it with an act of congress. But now they're saying I can do it just with an executive order. Now. How ridiculous were the only country in the world where a person comes in has a baby and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for eighty five years with all of those benefits. It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. And it has to end it's got Horsely. What is birthright citizenship? Will it's the notion that anyone who is born in the United States automatically becomes a citizen of the United States. The president is wrong when he says, we're the. Only country that observes birthright citizenship, actually, Canada, Mexico about thirty other countries, most of the western hemisphere practice this it's enshrined in the fourteenth amendment to the constitution. And I'm not sure who the they is telling the president he can change this by executive order, but it is very much. Jonathan swan suggestion that interview clip in dispute, so I mean can can a president really take it away. Then if something is enshrined in the constitution, as you mentioned, Scott, it's part of the fourteenth amendment is an amendment that was passed after the civil war. What are these reconstruction act amendments? It's something that we have had for at this point more than a century and a half. Can you just take it away through an executive order? Well, I think it's important here note that the house speaker Paul Ryan was out in Kentucky today campaigning. And he didn't interview today in Kentucky. And he says, I'm a believer in following the plain text of the constitution. And I think in this case the fourteenth amendment is pretty clear and that involve a very very lengthy. Institutional process. And what he presumably means there is that. Yes. Congress could take action or you would have to get the state to defy to ratify a change of the constitution, which is an extremely high bar, the plain text of the constitution is all of the fourteenth amendment is all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof our citizens now if there's any dispute at all it's about that little phrase and subject to the jurisdiction thereof the supreme court weighed in on this more than a century ago and said, no it covers everybody except the kids of diplomats and the kids of foreign invaders, but the president's on pretty thin ice here. We should maybe interject a little surgeon general warning, it's very possible. This purported executive order is never going to materialize. This may very well be the kind of vaporware that we've heard from the president on other subjects it's very much designed to gin up enthusiasm among the GOP base. One of the things that we were talking about all last week. When the news was dominated by by. Attempted bombings. And then that terrible shooting in Pittsburgh, where President Trump is right now as we tape this is that President Trump was pretty clearly frustrated that those bombings were dominating the news. He put out that tweet where he put bombs in quotes saying that he was upset that this was this was the conversation, President Trump as you mentioned Osma wanted to talk about immigration over and over and over again, he kept returning to it in recent weeks on the campaign trail, this is a card that he can play to to shift attention for a moment at least back to his hardline immigration message, which he thinks will work well in exciting Republican voters, and we should point out that I mean, the reason he thinks it will work. Well, is that it did work well for him in two thousand sixteen if you look at the exit polls amongst voters who actually thought that immigration was an important issue. They tended to trend way more Republican and democratic and you know, look birthright citizenship is actually something that came up. I remember during the Republican primary in two thousand sixteen Donald Trump talked about it. I. Then we shortly thereafter, Bobby Jindal. I think was rand Paul came up in the role talking about it. And then was never heard of again for almost two years until here we are a week out from the mid term elections and suddenly it surfaces again, probably be oh back under a rock until the president again needs to gin up enthusiasm. It's a double edged sword though, we have a Republican congressman from the suburbs of Philadelphia Ryan Castilla. He's retiring this year, but he's calling this political malpractice on the part of the president because in the most competitive house races where tend to be a lot of immigrants. This could really backfire on the GOP and the president's party, even as it works to to his benefit in some of those more rural red states where the Senate contest is being fought out. That's a really really good point. Because I think this issue really does divide the Republican party and a pretty serious way. And if you're the president thinking about trying to turn out Republican base voters, and if you're thinking that the base is going. To carry an election that is far more likely to happen at a statewide level. So like in a Senate race, but when it comes to congressional races races. These are much more narrow groups of people and for the most part the battleground as we've talked about all million times in this podcast. The battleground for the house is happening in the suburbs and just outside of the suburbs. And those are places where you have much more moderate Republican voters, and your Trump style based just isn't as dominant throw the throw the immigrants out is not the message that's going to get you college educated suburban women voters, but it speaks to maybe the fact that Donald Trump for a long time has just focus on the Senate as his priority to some degree. Because this isn't the first time we're hearing him speak in sort of strong passionate terms around immigration. Right. If you like this is just the latest duration of him trying to see which cultural message might stick. I mean, he was he's been warning us about a caravan that is coming from Central America to the US Mexico border. He's announce that there. Will be five thousand troops sent to the border. I mean, it sort of the list goes on and on. He's warned us about many other potential things that he he sort of saying to his base could happen in the realm of immigration. Well, if you think about his focus on the Senate, it makes a lot of sense, right? He has been told throughout the almost two years of his presidency that the thing that is standing in the way of him getting everything that he wants is a sixty vote threshold in the Senate, and he sees the Senate as a place that approves the personnel that he wants that gets supreme court justices through so his focus on the Senate is is fairly logical. When you're thinking about what the president's goals are. Maybe he's putting his eggs in the Senate basket and more or less surrendering the GOP majority in the house, or maybe that's just the only mode. He has. So I wanna ask you Kelsey you as well, Scott detro- because both of you have been out recently to states where immigration is really important to parts of the electorate and Kelsey. You were just in Florida, and Scott, I know you have been in Nevada. So talk to me a little bit about. What what you've heard in terms of actually how some of this rhetoric say from the president is actually affecting voters at this point. I think Florida might be a little bit of an anomaly in this situation where you the area that I was in was just south of Miami. And it's represented by a Republican Carlos Curbello, and you have a lot of Republicans there. But a lot of them are Republicans who are also immigrants or Republicans who are farmers who rely on immigrant labor, and these are some groups of people that release split with the president on this. And they're concerned more about passing laws that fix the immigration system. And when they say fixed, they mean allow more immigrants in particularly skilled workers. But when I was up in New Jersey, I heard so much about the caravan and people worried about the caravan Republican voters who are really focused that seems to have gotten through the noise and given the New Jersey is quite far from the US Mexico border. Yeah. It was I was surprised at how many people really did bring that up. I, you know. It's one of the things we're stuck in Washington. We get a sense of how much something is breaking through. But it's not till you get out there and talk to people, and when it came up and person after person after person, it, it seems to really be sticking when I was in Nevada us, you saw the flip side of this where we're Democrats view this as a base issue, a big chunk of Latino voters in in Nevada and Democrats need them to show up and vote. So you saw candidates like Jackie Rosen for Senate, but cows candidates as well gubernatorial candidates, talking a lot about this reminding voters about Trump's decision to try and cancel the deferred action for childhood arrivals program to to rollback protected status for people in countries that has been on the books for a long time several their anti immigrant policies that Trump White House has pushed saying you need to vote. And there's an interesting broader argument that I've heard in places like Nevada, but also places like Georgia where I was this past weekend. Where Democrats have taken a step back and are trying to frame this election as a referendum. On American values saying to voters, what do you want this country to be about what kind of country? Do you think this is what kind of country? Do you want to show up and support and and making it a broad referendum on all these divisive things that President Trump has done in his two years in office to some degree what you're describing Allegri? I've heard that. I heard it down from Democrats in Florida is well, but but it reminds me of the closing argument that Hillary Clinton made in two thousand sixteen which you could argue just did not actually turn out to be very successful for Democrats should not have about this time fair point. He's not. And I think when you talk about President Trump is replaying his 2016 tactics. You have to think about the fact that Hillary Clinton is not on the ballot. And you have a lot of fresher candidates. A lot of first time candidates who voters might be a lot more inclined to support or cross an I'll for than they would somebody who'd been on their TV screens for thirty years. Also, you have President Trump with a record now before he was a person who had a lot of promises, and we heard from voters all the time. Time. Right. That were saying that well, we take him seriously. But not literally or we think of we don't know how he's going to have to give him a chance. Well, they'd given him a chance. And now this is an opportunity for voters to, you know, express whether or not they're happy with what he did. All right. Well, I am sure that immigration is not entirely going to disappear between now and election day. So we'll probably have more to talk about this. But Scott Horsely we're going to let you go for now. I know you've gotta jet. But thank you very much. Great video by other Scott, and Kelsey and Scott Detroit stick around because we're gonna take a quick break. And when we get back, we're going to look at where Democrats and Republicans are focusing their money and their efforts in the final days before the election. Support for this podcast and the following message. Come from grow with Google digital skills are becoming more and more important in today's economy. That's why grow with Google is providing free online training and tools to help Americans. Learn the skills they need to succeed. Learn more about grow with Google and get started by visiting Google dot com slash grow more than twenty years. That's how long Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar abused. The girls and women who came to see him for treatment believed a new podcast from Michigan radio and NPR digs into how he got away with it for so long. And we're back and we've got Dominica Montinaro here with us. Hey, Dominica hither Osma. All right. So let us start this conversation. Just talking about money because money is always important, and it certainly very important when it comes to elections how the political parties are spending all of this cash that they have in the final days of the election. So Dominica, let's just start with a quick recap of who has spent the most money. Well, first of all start with sort of overall. How much money is expected to be sputtering. This election is a huge huge number. There's more than five billion dollars expected to be spent the center I bounce of politics has forecast, and that is an unprecedented number for a mid-term election. It's a whopping some like, it's huge. And a lot of that money is going to democratic candidates, frankly, there's so much energy on the democratic side with small donors that you're seeing candidates raise unbelievable amounts of money. For example, more than sixty democratic house candidates raised a million dollars or more in just the third quarter, which is unprecedented. The thing that got the most attention was the democrat running for for Senate, Texas beta Aurora raising something like thirty million dollars thirty eight million dollars. That's running for president money, not running for Senate money, and a lot of these house candidates have been raising the type of money, you see for us is absolutely your team that all over the place, in fact, and this using just suggested sort of enthusiasm, particularly the democratic side at this point. Well, you know, it's one measure of enthusiasm certainly that if you're willing to open up your wallets and give to a candidate. Then that's a big deal. Now one advantage that Republicans have is they are winning on outside spending, those super PACS and outside groups are giving Republicans in advantage and really giving them a lot of air cover whether it be in these house districts or in Senate districts because another factor wanna let you know about in the Senate races. Democrats are outspending Republicans and have out. Raised Republicans in ten of the twelve most competitive races, so far and the only to our Florida and New Jersey, and what are those races have in common? Very wealthy. Republican carries candidate who have poured tons of their own money into the race. Even even candidates who are trailing like Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota. She is at this point probably viewed as the democratic incumbent most endanger of losing her seat. She raised. I'm forgetting the exact number. But it was definitely tens of millions of dollars in the days after she announced that she was not going to vote for Brett cavenaugh just a flood of money coming in to help her campaign, even as she faces. Very uphill fight at this. She's raised three times as much money as her Republican opponent congressman Kevin Kramer at the same time. It's also North Dakota. There's only so much money. You can spend on the air in North Dakota. You talk to me about Republican candidates a little bit right because we have talked. I think so far more about the democratic candidates. I'm curious can you quantify for me? How much we're talking about? When it comes to Republican. Gates, because you said a lot of the money's coming from outside groups. Well, Democrats have out raised Republicans four hundred ninety million to three hundred fifty three million through three quarters. So still a lot of money going to Republicans, but not as much as Democrats, obviously, we should keep in mind that twenty sixteen was the first cycle where there was a serious conversation about is this the death of the TV ad in political campaigns famously Donald Trump waited until incredibly late in the general election to even begin airing TV ads, this has been happening more and more for several cycles. But twenty sixteen was the first time that we saw a social media advertising digital advertising being just as important to so many campaigns as television advertising, and especially if you're in a house race, you can you can get up a more quickly. You can target it to specific voters. You can be more nimble with it. And if you have a ton of money coming in at the end, you can use it for Facebook and Twitter and everything else advertising in a way that sometimes it's harder to to book that TV time Dominica, I want you to give us a. Picture at this point because we are one week away from the election on where we are seeing. Let's start with the Republicans. I where we are seeing them spend their money at this point in have we noticed any shifts in where that money is being spent. Well, you gotta look at the house because the house is really where this races is being won or lost. As far as Democrats thinking, they can take back at least one chamber right because the Senate looks more like it's trending Republican likely to stay that way because of the landscape that favors them. But when I talked to campaign officials today, they acknowledged that some of these resources are having to be diverted from a lot of these top tier races. In those suburban high educated, wealthier suburbs examples like which types oh places outside of Washington DC like the tenth congressional district for Barbara Comstock or outside the Denver suburbs. Where Mike Kaufman. The Republican is running in the sixth congressional district like outside of Kansas City for. Sample Kansas City, Kansas where you have Kevin Yoder, a Republican who seems to be down a lot within the internal polling that a lot of the campaign committees have seen and they need to at this point figure out where they're going to most sort of move their resources, and what one person told me was that the firewall has shifted it shifted from there to other districts that are little further out that you wouldn't have expected to see Republicans having to spend money in places like South Carolina's first congressional district, for example, not the kind of place usually a pretty pro Republican place not that that means the democrat is likely to win there. But that Republicans are having to spend money there to save some of these folks. So why are they moving the money away from some of these places because when you get towards the end of a campaign, you just have to decide where you have your best your best opportunities. And I talked to a lot of Democrats and Republicans who said we talked already about these outside groups and how much they're spending. There's. Hope particularly among Republicans as they move out of districts that these outside groups who have lots of money will move in. But the ads that they move in have largely as we've talked about before been more about Nancy Pelosi, and they've been more about some really divisive. It is really rough ads that are actually turning off a lot of voters that I've talked to and they actually pay more for ads campaigns get a discount and can actually buy more for their money. You know, and if people follow real estate, and you're looking for houses, you know, you understand suburbs? Verse excerpts know, the suburbs or right outside the city and the excerpts are just outside the suburbs. And there's listen. Are away. Supercomputers these are supercomputers, right? These people who decided, you know, maybe don't make as much money, but I really want a big house still, and they've sort of have some expansion into areas that might have previously been rural. And now we're being developed. That's where a lot of the races. Now, are that Republicans are trying to firm up those districts? That's interesting. And so presumably the demographics of the people living in those districts are also different in your sound sounds like you're saying they'll they're more favorable to the Republican party. These are districts that presumably Republicans ought to win. Yes. Generally, these are district's that Republicans do win. And that's that's what's been surprising for a lot of people. So Scott, I'm curious, you know, when you look at Democrats, do you have a sense of where they're really focusing their money at this point with just a week left before election day, everywhere everywhere there. Yes. And I think there's this weird tension going on because at one hand the polls remain incredibly close in a lot of these races. Even these races that Republicans pulled. Back on as Dominica was just saying on the other hand Democrats, see the trends moving in the direction, they feel like the independent voters are breaking for them. They seeing some evidence that their base is energized and showing up to vote, and they feel like an especially given all the money that they have they're able to start spending money in more Republican friendly friendly district's if anything to put the Republicans on defense in focus and force them to to spend the money on their turf. So it's really aggressive movement from Democrats at this point to try and expand the map and Dominica as we've been talking about. It's it's hard to it's hard to rationalize or it's hard to square that with the incredibly tight polls that we're seeing in all these raises. But that's what Democrats have been seeing all along Nancy Pelosi is favourite phrases all year is that if a wave comes it'll be tiny droplets of rain that put democrat over the top and each of these districts, and that's for a lot of factors among them. The fact that Republicans and a lot of key states were the ones who drew the district lines in twenty eleven and twenty twelve that that. Set up these Republican-leaning districts for districting is a huge key point here because Democrats are playing mostly on all of these places for the most part on Republicans Republican leaning areas, and because of that it's insulated some of these candidates to a significant degree, and it's one of the caveats at Democrats talk about they said looking past wave years, those those places that are most likely to flip suddenly you start to see an opening up of a much wider margin than what you're seeing right now in the polls. Now, you're you're saying are still really tight you're still very tight even at the places that are most likely to flip you have a very wide field right now. But it might be a little bit of an inch deep kind of thing mile wide inch deep or some of these races. We'll all right. That is a wrap for today. We'll be back as soon as there is more political news that you need to know about. And don't forget you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter. It breaks down all of the big themes of the week, and you can find our best digital stories on their subscribe to the NPR politics newsletter at N P. Dot org slash politics newsletter. I must Macao's political reporter, I'm Scott that try cover congress. I'm Kelsey Snell. I also cover congress, and I'm Dominican months in our political editor and thank you for listening to NPR politics podcast.