1. The Obama mantle
The Pete Buttigieg buzz is real — the young mayor of South Bend, Indiana, raised more money than most of his rivals, and sits in third place in the latest polls out of Iowa and New Hampshire.
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny says some Democrats are telling him that Buttigieg reminds them of another young Democratic politician with a funny name.
“I was in Chicago last week, talking to a lot of former (Barack) Obama aides,” Zeleny said. “They say they recognize — particularly in how he sounds — a lot of Mayor Buttigieg in what Sen. Obama used to sound like.”
Zeleny said that until recently, Beto O’Rourke was the one being compared to the former president.
“O’Rourke’s people are slightly concerned about this,” Zeleny said. “His campaign manager sent out an email saying don’t look at these early polls, we’re right on track here. But there is a sense O’Rourke may have squandered an early moment.”
2. Trump touts his tax cut
It’s been nearly 16 months since President Donald Trump signed his signature tax cuts into law, and polls show they’ve never been particularly popular. But Republicans still hope to win the public over.
“They tried to run on it in 2018 and they really struggled,” Washington Post reporter Toluse Olorunnipa said. “Polling shows that Americans still largely disapprove of the tax bill that passed — only about anywhere from 36% to 40% of voters support it.”
So Trump will spend Tax Day promoting the $1.5 trillion tax cut.
“The president will be traveling to Minnesota to talk about the tax bill and focus on what he’s done for everyday Americans and their pocketbooks,” Olorunnipa said. “Democrats obviously are running against the tax bill, saying it was a big giveaway to the corporations and the wealthy. But it will be very interesting to see as the President goes to Minnesota whether he can do what his advisers want him to do — which is focus on the economy — and not get distracted by what he really wants to talk about, which is immigration and other divisive issues.”
3. A third Trump-Kim summit?
“The president this past week hosted the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, and said that while a big deal with North Korea didn’t work out in Hanoi a couple of months ago, he’s open to smaller deals,” Politico’s Eliana Johnson said. “That’s the first time we’ve heard him say that. That’s something that makes some White House advisers, particularly National Security Adviser John Bolton, very nervous.”
4. Trump’s Yemen policy
Congress passed a bipartisan resolution this month calling for the end to US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Now the White House must decide what to do about it when it formally reaches his desk.
“I think everybody is expecting he will veto this resolution,” Washington Post reporter Karoun Demirjian said. “Even though there’s only a very small number of Republicans who supported that effort to pull away from the Saudi-led fight, they are people who are rather close to the President. They are pressuring him to actually maybe sign this legislation.”
And even many of the Republicans who voted against the resolution still want to punish Saudi Arabia for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“The momentum to do something about Saudi Arabia, especially since people have not forgotten about the killing of Khashoggi, is still there,” Demirjian said. “It still has the leaders of the GOP in a bind. But do we start talking sanctions? It doesn’t seem like this issue is going to go away, even though it’s been kind of pushed back because of everything else going on.”
5. Michigan’s critical 2020 bellwether
And from CNN Chief National Correspondent John King:
Every campaign is new, with wrinkles of its own. But there are still some places on the map that are bellwethers, as we are reminded this weekend.
Gallup polling has Trump’s approval rating at 45 percent, not great but still a high-water mark for the incumbent. Another reminder sitting presidents are hard to beat, especially with a strong economy.
This weekend’s political calendar is instructive. So follow along for a version of 2020 Jeopardy. Today’s category: Critical Political Geography.
This American city is where Michael Dukakis once rode in a tank.
It is the largest city in the American county where the term “Reagan Democrats” was coined.
In more recent campaigns, including the new one, it is a testing ground for candidates looking to prove they understand the stress that globalism has brought to America’s blue-collar workers.
Trump scored a big win there in 2016, even though Democrat Hillary Clinton visited this bellwether city to distance herself from trade agreements negotiated by her husband and by President Obama.
And the President was back just a few weeks ago, making the case that he is keeping his economic promises.
Enter Bernie Sanders, who chose this same city Saturday to challenge the President to walk away from one of his new trade deals — the United States Mexico Canada Agreement. Sen. Sanders said the USMCA had inadequate protections for American workers.
The answer: What is Warren, Michigan.