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Friday, August 18, 2017
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Friday, August 18, 2017 10:09 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Trump’s worst week yet

Your Friday power lunch talking points: In the past six days, President Trump attributed racial violence and hatred “on many sides.” On Tuesday, he talked about the “very fine people” within the emerging KKK/neo-Nazi/white supremacist movement who were “quietly” protesting. On Wednesday, business leaders fled his advisory councils, which Trump quickly disbanded. On Thursday, he was castigating Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham, a week after he did the same to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And on Thursday, Republican Sen. Bob Corker said, “The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful. Without the things that I just mentioned happening, our nation is going to go through great peril.” And Republican Sen. Tim Scott said he could no longer “defend the indefensible” adding Trump’s “moral authority is compromised” on his Charlottesville reaction.

After the terror attacks in Barcelona, Trump retweeted a historically debunked story about World War I Gen. John Pershing. Trump explained in South Carolina in 2016: “He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pig’s blood. And he had his men load his rifles and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And to the 50th person he said, ‘You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years there wasn’t a problem, OK?” The story is not true. And it was hardly a clarion call for unity. Through all of this, Hoosier Republicans summoned enough courage to denounce bigotry, but remain mute on a president who is clearly coming off the rails.

2. Pence compares Trump to Teddy Roosevelt

We learned that Vice President Mike Pence was cutting his South American tour short, rushing back to D.C. and then to Camp David where he will meet with President Trump. Pence said in Panama, “In President Donald Trump, the United States once again has a president whose vision, energy and can-do spirit is reminiscent of President Teddy Roosevelt. Then, as now, we have a builder of boundless optimism, who seeks to usher in a new era of shared possibility. Then, as now, we have a leader who sees things not just as they are but for what they could be. And then, as now, we have a president who understands, in his words, 'a nation is only living as long as it is striving.'" Therein lies the reason why Hoosier Republicans remain mute.

3. Hoosier Democrats call for hate crime legislation

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane is calling for hate crime laws in 2018. “We in Indiana have turned our heads at these kinds of events for far too long,” Lanane said. “From racial slurs painted on Muslim and Jewish community centers to hatchet attacks of foreign exchange students, to bomb threats and acts of violence; Indiana needs to put their foot down and actively condemn these heinous acts. I am encouraged to hear that Speaker Brian Bosma has opened his eyes to this fact and is now calling for an Indiana hate crimes law, as the Senate Democrats have done for a number of years now.” And Sen. Greg Taylor said in an op-ed, "Events in Charlottesville this past weekend have finally alerted my colleagues in the legislature, as well as Gov. Holcomb, to the possibility that hate crimes legislation is needed in Indiana. It will be critical to the success of this bill for all people to be protected regardless of their perceived race, color, creed, disability, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity.”
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    WASHINGTON – Business leaders may be abandoning President Donald J. Trump in the wake of his reaction to last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Va., but the two leading candidates in the Indiana Republican Senate primary race are sticking with him. While CEOs exited White House advisory councils after Trump on Tuesday reaffirmed his stance that there “was blame on both sides” of a demonstration by white nationalists and a counter protest that led to one death and several injuries, Reps. Luke Messer, 6th CD, and Todd Rokita, 4th CD, avoided contradicting Trump. “Hate, bigotry and racism are un-American and unacceptable,” Messer said in an email statement. “I denounce these groups in the strongest terms. To me, much of the criticism surrounding the president was unfair. President Trump denounced the violence and racism displayed in Charlottesville, and I have denounced it, too.” Like Trump, Rokita cast a wide net of blame. “Rep. Rokita believes Americans need to come together to reject all hate groups that encourage domestic terrorism and violence,” Tim Edson, a Rokita campaign spokesman, wrote in an email.
    INDIANAPOLIS – Several years ago I was attending a meeting of Asia-Pacific community leaders in Melaka, Malaysia. People had gathered there from all over the region, including South Korea and Guam, but also Taiwan, and even Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Australia, Tahiti and a number of other countries. Together, we witnessed the reporting on the tsunami that hit Japan, including the terrifying images of coastal cities completely devastated, homes, personal property and loved ones sucked out to sea, never to be heard from again. And if that was not enough, the struggle of the nuclear meltdown of Fukushima, all while our friends and colleagues from Japan could only watch the reports with us, unable to communicate with family back home. The kinship that these people from all over the region felt for one another was palpable and as heartwarming as it could be under the circumstances and uncertainty. People understood that they all faced that common enemy, Mother Nature, and that she could wreak havoc any place, any time, and that many of these nations were particularly vulnerable. Today, there may be a run on Ambien in the Pacific Rim. This escalation of rhetoric and posturing regarding North Korean aggression is unprecedented, and our regional military exposure is more vulnerable than in the past 30 or more years. President Trump’s toughguy talk to Pyonyang sounds awfully similar to his colleague from the Philippines, President Dutarte, and what the Asia Times describes as his “shock and awe diplomacy.”
    SOUTH BEND – While today I defend Republican Congressman Luke Messer, it’s about one very misguided type of attack. So, don’t interpret it as favoring Messer over Todd Rokita, the other Republican congressman seeking the party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate. Either would be a formidable opponent for Sen. Joe Donnelly, the Democrat who seeks reelection in 2018. Neither would be another Richard Mourdock, the nutty Republican nominee Donnelly defeated to win a first term. A Mourdock type could slip between Messer and Rokita to win in the Republican primary, and there are far-out prospects seeking to do so. But chances are that Donnelly won’t be that fortunate a second time. Now, to defending Messer in one area where he has been attacked in an unfair, but potentially damaging, way. Messer is criticized for relocating his family – wife and three kids – to suburban Washington after election to Congress in 2012. Good for him. Good for his family. Good for Congress.
    MERRILLVILLE – Are Donald Trump and Mike Pence peas in a pod, or is the vice president ready to fly from the nest. Pence, who is one of the biggest defenders of the president, stayed true on Monday after critics ripped Trump for saying there was fault to be found on both sides of the Charlottesville, Va., demonstration last weekend. So defensive of Trump was Pence that he attacked the media, much like the president has done since taking office. “The media is more concerned in attacking Trump than criticizing the violence itself,” Pence said. Besides defending the president, Pence added that there “will be more unity in America” under Trump’s presidency. All that is fairly standard for Pence, who one day would like to be president. And if Pence is going to succeed Trump, he will need the president’s political base to do so. Perhaps that’s why we haven’t heard from Pence since Monday. Pence, even though he is traveling, hasn’t said a word about Trump’s Tuesday tirade about what happened in Virginia. 
    INDIANAPOLIS – What is the most important job of a mayor? Clearing the streets of snow? Garbage collection? Pothole filling? Providing jobs? Enforcing the law and local codes? Certainly all of these are important tasks. Yet number one on my list is land use. How we use the land in our communities is the basis for the future. Soon after he was elected I stopped in for a chat with Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton. I told him, in my opinion, the most important task he faced was the future use of the downtown block where the post office once stood. This property, owned by a nearby church, is one diagonal block from the courthouse.  No doubt there are many ideas of how this property should be used. Some would argue for a park. Others would endorse senior citizen housing. There are those who envision a monumental, mixed-use tower. Perhaps, this being Bloomington, a few dream of a gathering place for political rallies and evangelical tent meetings, with a dramatic fountain symbolically representing the free flow of ideas.
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  • HPI Analysis: Trump impacts on U.S. Senate race
    MORRISTOWN – Some 800 people gathered on a bucolic, peaceful Indiana farm near here Saturday afternoon as U.S. Rep. Luke Messer officially kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign. Some 600 miles away, the scene couldn’t have been more different. Charlottesville, Va., was the scene of an alt right rally that lurched into violence with counter protesters, with a white supremacist from Ohio driving his car into a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. By late that afternoon, President Trump landed squarely into the controversy, blaming people “from both sides” for the violence.
     As Trump thrust himself into Hoosier politics in 2016, ultimately aligning with Gov. Mike Pence and their emphatic Election Day wave pulling Eric Holcomb and Todd Young into office, to think that a similar impact isn’t in store for the 2018 Senate race is to embrace naiviety. Trump’s Saturday statement was in contrast to four tweets by Messer and U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, who are now engaged in the second member v. member Republican Senate primary in the past two cycles. “We cannot allow hate and bitterness to prevail. #Charlottesville,” Messer said. “On a day where we enjoyed the love and friendship of so many in Morristown, it is hard to fathom the scene in #Charlottesville.”
  • Horse Race: Hall explores 2nd CD as Arnold won't run

    INDIANAPOLIS - With the decision of State Sen. Jim Arnold (D-LaPorte) not to seek the 2nd CD, reliable sources tell HPI say that another potentially contender has emerged who is “seriously considering” a run against Rep. Jackie Walorski,  former South Bend businessman Mel Hall. Hall is best known for having grown a small, upstart South Bend firm – Press Ganey – that surveyed patient and employee satisfaction at hospitals, into a national powerhouse that ultimately claimed half the 5,000 hospitals in the country as clients. In 2014, Hall (pictured)moved to Nashville Tennessee to serve as CEO of Specialty Care, a provider of various clinical services, with over 1,800 employees under his supervision.  The prospect of a Democratic expert on health care issues matching up against an ardent supporter of ACA repeal will likely excite Democrats who are hungry for a credible candidate to face Walorski.
  • Indiana meth lab busts decline 58% after new law


    INDIANAPOLIS - A little over a year after SEA80 took effect, Indiana methamphetamine lab busts have declined 58% compared to the same time period a year ago. Indiana State Police reports 254 meth lab busts occurred from January through June, representing a 58 percent drop from the 605 incidents during the same period in 2016. In addition, the number of children removed from meth lab environments went down nearly 68 percent from 108 to 35 cases. During the last six months of 2016, meth labs declined by 38%, going from 1,452 in 2015 and 943 in 2016.
    “Because of the hard work of law enforcement and pharmacy staff in combination with statewide meth reforms, Indiana has seen a significant drop in meth lab busts,” State Rep. Ben Smaltz said. “Since taking office, one of my top priorities has been to curb meth production in Indiana while working to reduce the number of Hoosier children exposed to meth labs to zero. As these numbers continue to go down year after year, I’m confident that we are on our way toward achieving those goals.”

  • Atomic: Senate race silence; Young speaks out; Donnelly & GOP
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Charlottesville & McConnell absent in Senate race: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: The Republican U.S. Senate race is fully underway here in Indiana, but two issues that have been percolating nationally are, to this point, absent. None of the campaigns has reacted to Charlottesville tragedy and President Trump’s “many sides” statement on Saturday, though on Monday he issued a stronger statement. At least five Senate Republicans, including Sens. Cory Gardner, Orin Hatch and Ted Cruz, did weigh in critically on Trump’s statement. Then there’s the  Trump feud with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Again, silence from the camps of Reps. Todd Rokita, Luke Messer, Terry Henderson, Mike Braun and Andrew Takami. They do face a balancing act, trying not to alienate Trump supporters. But potential candidate, Attorney General Curtis Hill, did issue a stern denunciation of the Charlottesville attack, tweeting, “Hoosiers and all Americans should reject hatred and attacks based on race.” 

  • HPI Interview: Rep. Braun plans to run competitive Senate race

    INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Mike Braun became the fifth Republican to enter the U.S. Senate race on Tuesday. The Wabash College graduate first joined the Indiana House in 2014 and served on the powerful Ways and Means and Roads and Transportation committees. The Jasper Republican stresses his business and entrepreneural background and his ability to translate it into government action. “I’ve built a small company and made it into a big company. I clearly come out of the private sector, know my way around politics with my experience in the Statehouse and I think that’s going to benefit me in the long run as people sort out a large field,” he said. “There is going to be a clear contrast between my background and the two frontrunners. If everybody else is coming from the outside, I don’t think anybody is going to be able to articulate infrastructure and health care and tax code issues as well as I can. That’s what’s going to be the essence of what I’m going to talk about.”

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  • Sen. Young denounces bigotry, meets with Auschwitz survivor Eva Kor
    "We must condemn hate, bigotry, the violence associated with that bigotry, white supremacy and related phenomenon and groups, neonazis and so forth. There is just no place for that in the United States of America. It's unAmerican. It's anti-American in this pluralistic country. That should not be controversial in the year 2017." - U.S. Sen. Todd Young, speaking to the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. Young met with Eva Kor, a survivor of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz, at the CANDLES Holocaust Museum in Terre Haute on Thursday.
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  • Presidents Bush 41, 43 denounce racism
    Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush released a joint statement on Wednesday, denouncing racism, anti-Semitism and hatred after the events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms. As we pray for Charlottesville, we are reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city’s most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country.” The statement came a day after President Trump backtracked on a Monday statement where he denounced alt right groups, saying the there were “fine people” in the KKK, neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups. The Bush statement did not mention President Trump. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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