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Wednesday, June 26, 2019
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Wednesday, June 26, 2019 10:19 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Mayor Pete on race

Here are your hump day power lunch talking points: Mayor Pete Buttigieg is emerging from his race crisis in South Bend to the national forum he’ll share with Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and six others Thursday night in the second Democratic debate. MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle asked him if he should be back in campaign mode. Buttigieg’s response is likely to reveal the contours of his messaging moving forward: “We have to be able to do many things at once. This is a moment my community is in anguish. We’ve been on the ground working with community leaders, working with community members trying to make sure the facts emerge, but also recognizing that the anguishing that is happening is not only about a family who has lost a loved one, the family of Eric Logan, but also goes to another set of issues, both locally and nationally we have been dealing with, the feeling from black Americans that they are literally being policed to death. And making sure we have a way forward on that. This is not just a policy question, this is a moral question. Everything that all of us do is in the shadow of systemic racism that has poisoned the relationship between communities of color and police departments everywhere in the country.”

Asked about his low polling support among black voters and the fact that 40% of them in South Bend live in poverty, Buttigieg said, “It’s a terrible inequality. I didn’t create it, but I’ve been working side by side with members of the community to address this. You can’t separate the role of race and poverty and what’s going on between the black community and the criminal justice system. It’s not always about justice. All of these are tied together in the conversation we are having locally and the conversation we have to have with black voters in the country as a whole.” The mayor added, “As more voters get to hear our message, we will have more support, just like I’ve been able to earn support from black voters at home in South Bend. We know no city has solved this; no president has solved this. If our country doesn’t figure out a way to tackle these issues in my lifetime, I think it could tear the American project apart.”

2. Crouch makes Holcomb a $5 million man

Gov. Eric Holcomb is officially a $5 million man, thanks to his sidekick. A little more than two weeks before he launches his reelection bid in Knightstown, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch transferred $1 million from her account to the governor’s reelection. That’s on top of the $400,000 she has already moved to Holcomb over the past two years. And it underscores that the LG is a money juggernaut in her own right. No other LG has come close to the amount of money Crouch has raised. "As Indiana's lieutenant governor, I'm proud of the results Gov. Holcomb and I are delivering for Hoosiers of all walks of life," said Crouch. "I'm proud to have this historic outpouring of support from Hoosiers across the state for our efforts."

3. Mueller to testify

Special Counsel Robert Mueller will testify before two joint House committees on July 17. "Americans have demanded to hear directly from the Special Counsel so they can understand what he and his team examined, uncovered, and determined about Russia's attack on our democracy, the Trump campaign's acceptance and use of that help, and President Trump and his associates' obstruction of the investigation into that attack," House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and House IntelligenceChairman Adam Schiff said in a joint statement. This is big news because most Americans (and most members of Congress) haven’t read the Mueller report. Republicans were ready to "move on" within minutes of its release. So the special counsel will provide a verbal narrative, which has the potential to be explosive …because it will be on TV. President Trump was the reality TV star who created the reality TV presidency. This will be an episode beyond his production control.

4. Mayors urge bipartisanship

The National League of Cities has convened in Indianapolis and mayors are preaching their brand of politics: bipartisanship. Gary Mayor KarenFreeman-Wilson, who is NLC president, cited inertia at the federal level. "We have seen a lot of conflict at the federal level, particularly among members of Congress and we understand that that conflict is often born in party partisanship," Freeman-Wilson told Inside Indiana Business. "However, we know that at the local level, there is really no Democratic or Republican way to solve some of our basic problems: potholes, making sure that we provide adequate public safety, dealing with the housing issues. No one asks questions when they're providing services as to whether you are an independent or a Democrat or a Republican."

5. Surrounded by legal weed

Will Indiana become the middle finger of weed prohibition? Recreational marijuana is legal in Michigan, gained that status Tuesday in Illinois, and will be on the ballot this November in Ohio. It will still be illegal in Kentucky, but it's the state's largest cash crop and on the black market. Illinois will tax the weed at 25%. It will also expunge criminal records of nearly 800,000 people convicted of low level pot offenses. Gov. Eric Holcomb says he's not interested in reaping tax windfalls of legal marijuana. But here's a question: How much do state and local governments in Indiana spend to interdict, prosecute, jail and monitor low level marijuana offenders?

Have a great day, folks. It's The Atomic!
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    CHICAGO  – Psssst, Mr. President, you will not be running against Hillary Clinton in 2020. This past week, President Trump and Vice President Pence kicked off their reelection campaign in Orlando and while he repeated the premise for another four years - “Promises made, promises kept” - it was also an exercise in grievance, with nary an aspirational echo from those like President Kennedy or Reagan. “Our political opponents look down with hatred on our values and with utter disdain for the people whose lives they want to run,” Trump said. "They tried to take away your dignity and your destiny. But we will never let them do that, will we? They tried to erase your vote, erase your legacy of the greatest campaign — probably the greatest election in the history of our country."  Trump brought up Hillary Clinton’s “33,000 emails” as the capacity crowd chimed “Lock her up!” Trump won his historic upset in 2016 in part because of his own shrewd strategies and fulsome use of social media. But there were many of his supporters, particularly in Indiana, who loathed Hillary Clinton and voted for the billionaire. But folks, Hillary ain’t runnin’. She’s back in Chappaqua. While the economy is humming, GDP is meeting his prediction of close to 3 percent growth, and jobless levels are at 50-year lows, Trump is not reaping the political windfall that most presidents do with such a positive economy.
    INDIANAPOLIS  — In Indiana, having one’s head in the clouds is deadly; our state is the second most toxic in all the nation when it comes to pollution, according to a new U.S. News & World Report poll. But thanks to the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL), fewer politicians will have their heads in the clouds when it comes to an embraceable climate change policy. One week ago, 1,500 members of CCL swept into Washington, D.C. to hold meetings with 90% of House and Senate members. Their agenda? To explain and lobby for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA), a.k.a. H.R. 763. This act creates the most painless path possible to shift to renewables -- which experts have said we have 12 years to do before we reach a planetary point of no return. Let’s be honest: Any policy that isn’t bipartisan, market-driven, scientifically legit, and revenue-neutral is not going to get passed, nor make a dent in the enormity of the climate menace. The EICDA does all of these things in one elegant package.
    MUNCIE  – I gave a talk to the Indiana Superintendent’s Summit this week, and thought the issues I discussed might be of interest to Hoosiers as we think about our state’s economy. I began by sharing what the state’s Constitution says about education: “Knowledge and learning, general diffused throughout a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government; it should be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual scientific, and agricultural improvement . . . a general and uniform system of Common Schools.” This is exactly what an economist would say schooling does for an economy. Note that there is nary a word about filling ‘in demand jobs’ or satisfying the whims of important employers. That is because the authors of the Indiana Constitution knew state government did not have the competence to do such things, as current workforce policies are keen to demonstrate. I told the audience that labor markets are in the midst of a half century of marked change. Jobs have been significantly polarized into high-wage, highly educated jobs and low-wage, poorly educated jobs. There is also a growing geographic concentration of such jobs, with better-educated workers concentrating in urban places. 
    KOKOMO – We’ve finally found something that Republicans and Democrats agree on when it comes to the 2020 U.S. Presidential election: “It’s our version of the economy, stupid!” In 2010 during a “60 Minutes” interview, President Obama famously speculated on employment and the economy, “What is a danger is that we stay stuck in a new normal where unemployment rates stay high. People who have jobs see their incomes go up. Businesses make big profits, but they’ve learned to do more with less. And so they don’t hire. And, as a consequence, we keep on seeing growth that is just too slow to bring back the eight million jobs that were lost. That is a danger. So, that’s something that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about.” The view of the Obama Administration did not change when in 2014, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told the Economic Club of New York City that the U.S. GDP growth rate, adjusted for inflation, is now projected to run a little above 2% a year. Apparently, seventy years of GDP growth averaging more than 3% was going to be relegated to history by the “new normal” of 2% growth.
    LaPORTE  — While I’m “all in” with Mayor Pete and am solidly committed to his campaign, that doesn’t mean I can’t respect a good plan rolled out by one of his competitors. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plan released on June 4th calling for a new “economic patriotism” hits the nail on the head and could give a good lesson to Hoosier politicians of all stripes as to a winning political message. There’s a reason that Trump’s messaging turned counties like mine that had solidly supported Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 to red in 2016. I’m absolutely convinced that it was not the race-based appeals or the hard right messaging about immigrants. Voters in LaPorte County who -  like voters in around 200 other counties in this country that had voted for Barack Obama  -  didn’t instantly fall for racist appeals. Not LaPorte County. This was a county that had also elected an African-American countywide as county commissioner in 2010. Nope. This had everything to do with Trump’s very effective messaging urging an “economic populism” against coastal elites that had negotiated treaties like NAFTA that had hollowed out communities in the industrial heartland. Hoosiers are tired of being “taken advantage of” by large, faceless, nameless corporations shifting jobs and opportunity overseas who seemingly have no “patriotic loyalty” to either Indiana or the USA. That message worked.
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  • Atomic! Final pre-debate polls; Pete updates; Hickory Holcomb
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Final pre-debate polls: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: The Democratic presidential debates begin Wednesday night and we have a final set of polls before the reckoning begins. Joe Biden maintains a big lead in a Morning Consult Poll  with 38%. The figures are broken out among Democratic primary voters nationwide and in early primary states, which includes just voters who live in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Nevada. Bernie Sanders came in at 19%, Elizabeth Warren at 13%,Mayor Pete Buttieig at 7%, Kamala Harris 6%, Beto O'Rourke at 4% and Cory Booker at 3%. The latest results are based on 16,188 interviews with registered voters, collected from June 17 – 23, 2019. The MoveOn Straw Poll out this morning has Sen. Warren leading with 37.8%, followed by Sanders at 16.5%, Biden at 14.9%, Buttigieg at 11.7% and Harris at 6.8%. What this tells me is that while Biden is a first time "frontrunner" in three bids, he's not locked in at all.  The Democratic base is malleable. Anything can happen.
  • Atomic! Hostile crowds; Pete's words; Pence on border, climate
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis 

    1. Facing a hostile crowd: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: Three times in my political reporting career I've witnessed public servants face an exceedingly hostile crowd. The first was a forum at an Elkhart Baptist church where local and legislative candidates were told to stand on a taped X on the floor during Eric Miller's Advance America event, then were surrounded and faced a barrage of questions from animated citizens. In 2005, BMV Commissioner Joel Silverman faced hostile crowds as he sought to carry out Gov. Mitch Daniels charge to reform that awful agency. In 2009, U.S. Rep. Joe Donnellymet with a Tea Party fueled town hall outside on a sultry night in Kokomo. I loaned him my sunglasses, which he quickly took off, preferring to make eye contact with citizens angered  about the coming Obamacare. On Friday and again on Sunday, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg faced perhaps the angriest crowds I’ve ever seen at his two town halls following a police action shooting (sans body cam) eight days ago. Facing a hostile crowd is a challenge for any politician. You can feel the heat in your face. You must keep your composure. One bad answer can reshape or terminate a political career.  You watch for that disturbed person in your periphery. In the case of Donnelly and Silverman, they weathered these angry sessions well. Donnelly was reelected despite his Obamacare vote in 2010, and then won a Senate seat. Hoosiers should be eternally grateful for Silverman’s courage, as BMV is a vastly better agency for his reforms. The public opinion jury is still out on Mayor Pete, but let’s just say that his efforts over the past week have been courageous. He hasn’t ducked the bereaved family, the issues or criticism. NBC News: Buttigieg became visibly emotional when asked whether it had been wise to hold the event given the communal shouting match it ultimately became. “I just think it’s my job,” Buttigieg said. “I don’t know if it’s smart or not. I don’t know if it’s strategic or not. But it’s my city.

  • Buttigieg's aspirations become mired in a local PD shooting

    INDIANAPOLIS - This was supposed to be a potentially breakthrough week for South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and his presidential campaign. Until a week ago, his long-shot candidacy was ascendent, aimed at the Democratic debates that begin this week, and second quarter FEC reports due on June 30 where he is expected to post north of $15 million. But the shooting death of Eric Logan by South Bend Police officer Sgt. Ryan O'Neill has changed the dynamic. On a day when Buttigieg had planned to build bridges with South Carolina African-Americans at Rep. Jim Clyburn's famous fish fry, the mayor was back home, receiving a petition from angry residents who appeared intent on damaging his presidential campaign. At the Friday rally, the South Bend Tribune reported that at one point, a woman told Buttigieg, "You're running for president and you want black people to vote for you? That's not going to happen."

  • Atomic! Trump pulls back; Saudi rebuke; Young & Moore
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Fremont, Ind.

    1. Trump pulls back from airstrikes: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: The U.S. was poised for airstrikes on Iran last night ... and then President Trump pulled back. It came after Trump suggested Iran's shooting down of an American drone was a mistake, saying, “I find it hard to believe that it was intentional.” He said it was triggered by someone who was “loose and stupid.” Trump was a severe critic of the 2003 Iraq War and justifiably so since it became a geopolitical disaster for the U.S., strengthening Iran's standing in the Middles East. He's eased off the "fire and fiery" rhetoric with his bromance mate, Kim Jong Un. Now he appears reticent on Iran, preferring talks, which is a good thing. President Eisenhower is viewed as a successful commander in chief because he resisted armed incursions. Trump appears to be talking to Tucker Carlson (who favors restraint) and Sen. Tom Cotton who is urging military action. So keep an eye on who he talks to last.

  • Atomic! Buttigieg, Biden travails; Holcomb reelect; 13% turnout
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Chicago

    1. Mayor Pete's crisis: Here are your Thursday power lunch talking points: There's a reason there wasn't a President Muskie, a President Giuliani, or a President Dean. Events can overtake a so-called "frontrunner" and today both Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg may be in defining moments for their presidential bids. Buttigieg's race time bomb has gone off in South Bend, where family and friends of Eric Logan who was shot by a South Bend cop on Sunday has turned to incendiary rhetoric. "The community is sick and tired of South Bend police," Vernardo Malone, the family's spokesperson, said. "They want riots. They want to march." At a Wednesday community meeting, Rev. Lonnell Hudson called on the crowd to “calm down and let the system work. Justice will be served,” the South Bend Tribune reported. Buttigieg quickly returned to the city on Sunday, has met with the family, addressed police officers at the public. “One of the reasons we’re communicating upfront right now is because of lessons learned from members of the community,” Buttigieg told the South Bend Tribune. “We’ve had prior cases of use-of-force incidents and officer-involved shootings where I hesitated, frankly, to get in front of cameras because we didn’t know very much and it was out of our hands. But what I learned, what I was told by people in the community is it’s important to open channels of communication.” Many people we've talked with believe that Buttigieg has responded as he should to what is now a crisis.
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  • Buttigieg email to campaign supporters: 'My heart is broken'
    "It’s been a week since a member of our South Bend family was shot and killed by a police officer. I’ve held meetings with community members, the police department, and faith leaders. And yesterday, I held a community-wide town hall to discuss race and policing in our city, to make sure all residents could be heard. It was a tough conversation. Hearts are broken. My heart is broken. It was a painful but needed conversation. And I feel overwhelmed and heartened by the number of people – supporters and critics – who have reached out and made it clear over the past week that they want to join hands and face these problems together. Safety and justice are inseparable. Making them a lived reality for all is one of the great challenges of our time. And the solutions will have to come from cities like South Bend, where people are ready to come together to struggle and repair. I’m running for president as a mayor of an American city because the toughest issues we face locally are also important national issues." - South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, in a Monday morning email to supporters of his Democratic presidential campaign. Buttigieg is still planning to participate in the second Democratic presidential debate in Miami on Thursday night.
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  • Trump '100% for Pence on 2020 ticket

    President Trump made it clear that he will seek reelection in 2020 with Vice President Mike Pence on the ticket. NBC Meet The Press  host Chuck Todd asked Trump if he would run with Pence. "Well, look, look - 100 percent, yes. He's been, he’s been a terrific vice president. He's my friend." 

    Todd asked Trump why he didn't commit to supporting Pence for president in 2024. "Because it was a surprise question," the president said. "I mean, you know, I’m not even thinking of it. It's so far out. I mean, It's so far out. That would be the only reason. Now what happens in 2024? I don't know that Mike is going to run. I don't know who's running or anything else." - Brian A. Howey, in Indianapolis

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