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The Latest Political Headlines

    Stacey Abrams' campaign is preparing an unprecedented legal challenge in the unresolved Georgia governor's race that could leave the state's Supreme Court deciding whether to force another round of voting. The Democrat's longshot strategy relies on a statute that's never been used in such a high-stakes contest. It is being discussed as Georgia elections officials appear to be on the cusp of certifying Republican Brian Kemp as the winner of a bitterly fought campaign that's been marred by charges of electoral malfeasance. Top Abrams advisers outlined her prospective case to The Associated Press, stressing that the Democratic candidate hasn't finalized a decision about whether to proceed once state officials certify Kemp as the victor. That could happen as early as Friday evening. Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, Abrams' campaign chairwoman, is overseeing a team of almost three-dozen lawyers who in the coming days will draft the petition, along with a ream of affidavits from voters and would-be voters who say they were disenfranchised. Abrams would then decide whether to go to court under a provision of Georgia election law that allows losing candidates to challenge results based on 'misconduct, fraud or irregularities ... sufficient to change or place in doubt the results.' The legal team is 'considering all options,' Lawrence-Hardy said, including federal court remedies. But the state challenge is the most drastic. And some Democratic legal observers note Abrams would be dependent on statutes that set a high bar for the court to intervene. Kemp's campaign, which already has shifted into transition mode presuming he'll be inaugurated in January, said Abrams is pushing a 'publicity stunt' and said her refusal to concede is a 'ridiculous temper tantrum.' She already faces a narrow path to the governor's mansion. Unofficial returns show Kemp with about 50.2 percent of more than 3.9 million votes. That puts him about 18,000 votes above the threshold required to win by a majority and avoid a Dec. 4 runoff. The Associated Press is not calling the race until state officials certify the results. Abrams would assert that enough irregularities occurred to raise the possibility that at least 18,000 Georgians either had their ballots thrown out or were not allowed to vote. Lawrence-Hardy told the AP that Abrams will weigh legal considerations alongside her belief that many of her backers — particularly minority and poorer voters who don't regularly go to the polls — heeded her call to participate and ran into barriers. 'These stories to me are such that they have to be addressed,' said Lawrence-Hardy, who was among the army of lawyers who worked on the Bush v. Gore presidential election dispute in 2000. 'It's just a much bigger responsibility. I feel like our mandate has blossomed. ... Maybe this is our moment.' Kemp, who served as the state's chief elections officer until two days after the election when he resigned as secretary of state and declared victory, has maintained that any uncounted ballots won't change the outcome. Kemp supporters have gathered at some local elections offices protesting what they cast as an attempt to steal the election. The circumstances leave Abrams, a 44-year-old rising Democratic star, with a tough decision. The former state lawmaker became a national political celebrity with her bid to become the first black woman in American history to be elected governor. Her strategy of running as an unapologetic liberal who attracts new voters to the polls resonated in a rapidly changing state. Yet Abrams also must consider her own political future and the consequences of a protracted legal fight she might not win. All of that is playing out against the backdrop of Kemp's unabashed embrace of President Donald Trump's nationalism. Since Election Day, Abrams campaign workers have transitioned from get-out-the-vote efforts to helping voters determine whether their ballots were counted and documenting reported problems. The idea is to assemble a body of evidence to support the claim that the problems could account for Kemp's 18,000-vote margin above the runoff trigger. Affidavits from poll workers reviewed by the AP describe long lines that discouraged people from voting, poll workers failing to offer provisional ballots to people who didn't show up on the rolls or were at the wrong polling place and election equipment that froze and had to be rebooted. Cathy Cox, a Democrat who served as secretary of state from 1999 through 2007 and is now the dean of Mercer University's law school, said Georgia law puts a heavy burden on candidates such as Abrams who ask a court to intervene. 'I would say with pretty great confidence there has probably never been an election ... without some irregularity, where some poll worker did not make some mistake,' Cox said in an interview. The key, she said, is proving someone erred to the point that it could change the outcome. Lawrence-Hardy agreed the law requires a quantitative analysis. She said Abrams' team doesn't have a list of 18,000 disenfranchised voters. The evidence, she said, would consist of hundreds, if not thousands of such examples, along with data analysis of projected lost votes based on other problems, such as a lack of paper ballots at precincts where voting machines broke down and voters left long lines. Cox said courts must attempt to apply a nonpartisan standard of 'doubt' to the election. 'Would a reasonable person have a reason to doubt this election? Not would a hard-core partisan Democrat doubt a partisan Republican opponent,' she said. Abrams and voting rights activists have argued for months that Kemp mismanaged the elections system as secretary of state, with Abrams often calling Kemp 'an architect of suppression.' Under Georgia law, Abrams could file a challenge against Kemp or his successor as the secretary of state. The challenge must be filed within five days of certification in a trial court of the county where the chosen defendant resides. The defendant has between five and 10 days to respond, and the presiding judge sets a hearing within 20 days after that deadline, a calendar that could push a dispute well beyond what would have been a Dec. 4 runoff. If the judge determines the election is so defective that it casts doubt on the results, the judge can declare the election invalid and call a new vote among the same candidates. Cox called that 'the real extreme remedy.' A more 'surgical' course, she said, would be to affirm irregularities but only order that certified results be reopened and recertified once those problems are remedied. The judge could then declare a winner or order a runoff if the results are close enough. The judge could also declare a winner after hearing the evidence, but Cox said that's unlikely because the case will probably hinge on uncounted votes and there's no way to know before a count which candidate won those votes. Once the judge rules, the loser has 10 days to appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court. ___ Follow Barrow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP and Brumback at https://twitter.com/katebrumback.
  • Michelle Obama said she felt anxious before giving her emotional New Hampshire speech in 2016 condemning Donald Trump for bragging about sexually assaulting women in a recording more than a decade ago. The former first lady recalled that she wrote the outline of her speech addressing Trump's comments on the infamous 2005 'Access Hollywood' tape while sitting in a waiting room as her mother was having back surgery. She gave the speech at an event in support of Democrat Hillary Clinton. 'When I'm telling the truth, I'm not afraid,' Mrs. Obama said. 'I was anxious about giving it. I know how I feel, and what I wanted to do at that time was take women to that place where we know how we feel when we are demeaned. We have all experienced that at some point in time. Women don't have the platform to say it out loud.' But Mrs. Obama also said that she had gotten to the point where she was less concerned about what people thought about her words. 'It was also (Barack Obama's) second term. I was like 'I'm done with caring what people think.' It's time to put some truth out there.' Mrs. Obama spoke Thursday at an event with 'black-ish' actor Tracee Ellis Ross at The Forum near Los Angeles. She's promoting her best-selling book 'Becoming,' which was released this week. She never mentioned Trump's name, but said she 'hated bullies.' 'I don't know if men really understand what we bare as women,' she said. 'The sad thing is that women aren't safe in this world. We are at risk to be cut all the time. I wanted to bring voice to women who know what that feels like. You're just putting up with some man's voice saying some stuff that is inappropriate and out of line, and they think it's a joke. It has a lasting impact. ... You have the power to vote against it.' She entered the stage to Alicia Key's 'Girl on Fire' in her second stop of her 12-stop arena book tour. She kicked her tour off in a talk with Oprah Winfrey in Chicago. Ten percent of ticket costs are being donated to local charities, schools and community groups. Much of the 90-minute conversation between Mrs. Obama and Ross was filled with laughter. They talked about Mrs. Obama having a panic attack, getting marriage counseling and joked about her husband's walk being 'sexy' but annoyingly slow sometimes. In the book, Mrs. Obama mentions a time when she had a fist fight with a girl while growing up on Chicago's South Side. 'You did? A physical fight?' Ross asked. 'Yeah, I talk about it in the book. What other kind of fight — you see, this is Tracee. 'A physical fight. With your hands,' Mrs. Obama replied. She added: 'Those are the only fights you had on the South Side. What? You thought people were debating? No, girl. We were throwing down — like, kickin'.' The former first lady's husband, daughters, mother and brother gave their impressions of her maturation in a video montage. Her mom talked about how her daughter initially disliked politics and Barack Obama said he showed up to their first date late. Earlier Thursday, Mrs. Obama made a surprise visit to an early education center located in Skid Row in the downtown Los Angeles. She spent time reading with a group of 4-year-old children from an underserved area of the city. ___ This story has been corrected to show the name of the show is 'Access Hollywood,' not 'Hollywood Access.
  • While allies of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi pressed hard this week to put her on the way to become the next Speaker of the House, a small group of Democratic holdouts is threatening to block her from getting to 218 votes on the floor in January, leaving Democrats uncertain about their leadership. “I’m concerned about the situation,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), as he left a closed door meeting of House Democrats at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday afternoon. “I can’t say that I’m optimistic,” Connolly told reporters, noting that those opposed to Pelosi as the next Speaker did not seem to be backing down. “I’m always true to my word,” said Rep.-Elect Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who made clear repeatedly during his campaign for Congress that he would not vote for Pelosi as Speaker. “Sometimes it’s good to have a fresh new face, and to have change and go forward with some new ideas, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that,” Van Drew told reporters. . @edokeefe: 'If the election were held today on the House floor do you have the votes to be elected Speaker?' @NancyPelosi: 'Yes.' pic.twitter.com/PUqW5bpgUr — CSPAN (@cspan) November 15, 2018 Meanwhile, Pelosi’s office continued on Thursday to churn out public endorsements from both established Democrats and those who have just been elected. “I truly believe that Rep. Pelosi has demonstrated the proven, tested leadership we need to confront the issues before our nation,” said Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). “We cannot afford to come up short.” As for recently elected lawmakers, two new Democrats from California said they would stick with their home state colleague, arguing Pelosi would deliver ‘leadership that is bold, pragmatic, and capable of swift results.’ “This is why we support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker,” wrote Katie Hill and Mike Levin, who won seats in southern California. But the math to 218 votes seemed somewhat fraught for Pelosi, as if Democrats end up with around 235-240 votes in the House, a relatively small slice of the party could block Pelosi’s ascension, much as the Freedom Caucus threatened to do for several years in the House with the GOP. Senior House Democratic lawmaker on if Pelosi can’t get the votes to become Speaker: “It’s who blinks first. Is it Nancy or is it the caucus?” Another sr Hse Dem on the leadership fight: “It’s going to get ugly” — Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) November 15, 2018 “We had the biggest victory since 1974,” Pelosi said. “All of us are committed to a better future for America’s working families.” Whether that story line includes Pelosi as Speaker again – that won’t be determined until the week after Thanksgiving.
  • If it was up to most of the Democratic Party, Nancy Pelosi would be the obvious choice to become speaker of the House. But within the ranks of the chamber's Democratic majority, there's a small but persistent group pushing to topple her return as the first woman with the gavel. Pelosi appears be winning the outside game amassing endorsements from a who's who of the nation's Democrats, including former Vice President Al Gore and former Secretary of State John Kerry. Inside the Capitol she has support from influential lawmakers, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the civil rights leader, and Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who's in line to chair the Intelligence Committee, among others. Most recently Pelosi got the nod from MoveOn.org as liberals sound the alarm against an overthrow being orchestrated by mostly centrist Democrats who want to prevent the San Franciscan from being the face of the party. 'We strongly support and call on all members of the Democratic caucus to support @NancyPelosi for Speaker,' the group tweeted Thursday. It noted in particular her work passing the Affordable Care Act. 'Were it not for her skilled and effective leadership, the ACA would not be law today. Dems must reject attempts to defeat her and move caucus to the right.' The show of strength is a reflection on Pelosi's 15-year tenure as party leader but also her place in history as the first woman to hold — and potentially return — to the speaker's office after an election that ushered in a record number of women candidates. It's not lost on supporters that a group made up of mostly men is leading the effort to oust her. On the list of 17 names who've signed onto a letter against her, just three are women. 'Look, I'm supporting Pelosi,' said Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-ranking Democrat and an influential leader of the Congressional Black Caucus. 'But I would never tell anybody not to run.' Pelosi's opponents started rallying Thursday behind a possible contender, Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, a prominent member of the Black Caucus who has indicated a willingness to challenge her. Others may jump in, when lawmakers return after Thanksgiving for first-round voting. Fudge, recently re-elected to a 7th term, is an ally of Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who mounted an unsuccessful campaign against Pelosi two years ago and is a leader of the current effort to topple her. With Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., and others, the letter writers have yet to present their list publicly. They promise to do so soon, but Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., said they were hoping to add a few more signatures. Schrader said it's a 'lie' that Pelosi already has secured enough support, and that he would back Fudge. 'She has experience in running caucuses, fits the profile, I think, really well. She's tough,' he said. Rep.-elect Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J., said he signed the letter and is sticking and with his campaign promise to not vote for Pelosi — 'not in the caucus and not on the floor,' he said. 'There's something to be said for new ideas and showing that it's a change and having a different face,' he said. Pelosi has fended off challenges before, but this one — fueled by newcomers calling for change and frustrated incumbents who feel shut out of leadership after her many years at the helm — poses perhaps the biggest threat yet. With a narrow Democratic majority, now at about 230 seats, she does not have much cushion to secure the 218 votes needed on the floor if all Republicans vote against her, as expected. Some House races remain undecided and the Democratic majority could grow slightly. There is a chance the math could shift in Pelosi's favor if lawmakers are absent or simply vote 'present,' meaning she would need fewer than 218 votes for an absolute majority. The full chamber will elect the next speaker Jan. 3. Pelosi has remained steadfast in her pursuit of the gavel and welcomed all challengers. Her latest catchphrase: 'Come on in, the water's warm.' The 78-year-old Californian said she has 'overwhelming support' to become the next speaker. Asked if sexism might block her return, she countered that's a question for the mostly male lawmakers signing a letter against her. 'If in fact there is any misogyny involved in it, it's their problem, not mine,' Pelosi told reporters. The list includes a dozen incumbents and five newcomers, including two Democrats whose races have not yet been decided. Confirmed by an aide to one of the organizers, the list was first published in the Huffington Post. Allies of Pelosi have churned out endorsements daily, with support from incoming House committee chairmen; leaders of outside organizations, including women's groups and labor unions; and others who align with Democrats and provide resources for elections. Many attest to Pelosi's skills at fundraising for the party, corralling the caucus and delivering votes. Her supporters say now is not the time for infighting when voters expect Democrats to stand up to President Donald Trump. But Pelosi also acknowledges the discomfort some lawmakers face because she's the GOP's favorite election-year villain. Some 137,000 ads were run against her this election cycle, she said. 'It makes it hard on the candidates,' she conceded. Pointing to Democrats' midterm success — they regained control of the House with their biggest midterm victories since Watergate — she added, 'Obviously those ads didn't work.' 'People don't even know who I am — an Italian-American grandmother with lots of energy, a mother of five, a grandmother of nine — who is here to do what's right for our future,' said Pelosi. Democrats seeking to block Pelosi argue it's time to give younger lawmakers a chance to rise to high-level posts. They also say Republicans have done such a good job demonizing Pelosi that it's hard for Democrats to be elected in closely contested, moderate districts. Finding a consensus candidate could prove daunting, and lawmakers hold mixed views about the prospect of a floor fight as the opening act of the new Congress. Pelosi made history when she became the first female speaker of the House in 2007. She assumed the post after Democrats took control of the House in midterm elections during former President George W. Bush's second term. ____ Associated Press writers Laurie Kellman and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. ____ Follow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lisamascaro and https://twitter.com/AP_Politics
  • The Justice Department inadvertently named Julian Assange in a court filing in an unrelated case that suggests prosecutors have prepared charges against the WikiLeaks founder under seal. Assange's name appears twice in an August court filing from a federal prosecutor in Virginia, who was attempting to keep sealed a separate case involving a man accused of coercing a minor for sex. In one sentence, the prosecutor wrote that the charges and arrest warrant 'would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter.' In another sentence, the prosecutor said that 'due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.' Any charges against Assange could help illuminate whether Russia coordinated with the Trump campaign to sway the 2016 presidential election. It would also suggest that, after years of internal wrangling within the Justice Department, prosecutors have decided to take a more aggressive tact against the secret-sharing website. It was not immediately clear why Assange's name was included in the document, though Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the Eastern District of Virginia — which had been investigating Assange — said, 'The court filing was made in error. That was not the intended name for this filing.' The Washington Post reported late Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter, that Assange had indeed been charged. The Associated Press could not immediately confirm that. It was not immediately clear what charges Assange, who has been holed up for years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, might face. But recently ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year declared the arrest of Assange a priority. Special counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating whether Trump campaign associates had advance knowledge of Democratic emails that were published by WikiLeaks in the weeks before the 2016 election and that U.S. authorities have said were hacked by Russia. Any arrest could represent a significant development for Mueller's investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the election. Barry Pollack, a lawyer for Assange, told the AP earlier this week that he had no information about possible charges against Assange. In a new statement, he said, 'The news that criminal charges have apparently been filed against Mr. Assange is even more troubling than the haphazard manner in which that information has been revealed. The government bringing criminal charges against someone for publishing truthful information is a dangerous path for a democracy to take.' The filing was discovered by Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, who posted it on Twitter hours after The Wall Street Journal reported that the Justice Department was preparing to prosecute Assange and said, 'To be clear, seems Freudian, it's for a different completely unrelated case, every other page is not related to him, EDVA just appears to have Assange on the mind when filing motions to seal and used his name.' Assange, 47, has resided in the Ecuadorian Embassy for more than six years in a bid to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he was wanted to sex crimes, or to the United States, whose government he has repeatedly humbled with mass disclosures of classified information. The Australian ex-hacker was once a welcome guest at the Embassy, which takes up part of the ground floor of a stucco-fronted apartment in London's posh Knightsbridge neighborhood. But his relationship with his hosts has soured over the years amid reports of espionage, erratic behavior and diplomatic unease. Any criminal charge is sure to further complicate the already tense relationship. Ecuadorian officials say they have cut off the WikiLeaks founder's internet access and will restore it only if he agrees to stop interfering in the affairs of Ecuador's partners — such as the United States and Spain. Officials have also imposed a series of other restrictions on Assange's activities and visitors and — notably — ordered him to clean after his cat. With shrinking options — an Ecuadorian lawsuit seeking to reverse the restrictions was recently turned down — WikiLeaks announced in September that former spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson, an Icelandic journalist who has long served as one of Assange's lieutenants, would take over as editor-in-chief. Hrafnsson did not immediately respond to calls and messages seeking comment. WikiLeaks has attracted U.S. attention since 2010, when it published thousands of military and State Department documents from Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning. In a Twitter post early Friday, WikiLeaks said the 'US case against WikiLeaks started in 2010' and expanded to include other disclosures, including by contractor Edward Snowden. 'The prosecutor on the order is not from Mr. Mueller's team and WikiLeaks has never been contacted by anyone from his office,' WikiLeaks said. ___ Associated Press writer Raphael Satter in Paris contributed to this report. Link to court filing: http://apne.ws/Me9YxB9 ___ This story has been updated to clarify in first paragraph that the court filing suggested prosecutors had prepared charges against Assange
  • Speaking before a gathering of black leaders on Capitol Hill this week, Sen. Kamala Harris offered guidance on when Democrats should fight President Donald Trump and Republicans. 'What I've found myself recently saying is this: 'If it's worth fighting for, it's a fight worth having,'' the California Democrat and potential presidential candidate said, pausing, before repeating the phrase once more. 'And I say that because I think sometimes there is a conversation that suggests that before we decide we're going to engage in a fight, some might say, 'Well, let's sit back and consider the odds of winning.'' 'No,' Harris continued. 'If it's worth fighting for, it's a fight worth having.' Energized by their success in last week's midterms and courting potential primary voters outraged by the actions of the Trump administration, virtually every Democrat considering a White House run is talking about fighting in one form or another — and trying to prove he or she is prepared for the match. Some, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have taken aggressive stances that suggest a willingness to take on Trump directly. Others, such as Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, talk about fighting for workers and espouse an aspirational vision of America. And former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, another potential presidential candidate, urges a higher form of politics that moves past the bitter rancor of the moment. In the process, all the possible presidential contenders are offering signs of how they would approach their candidacies. Dan Pfeiffer, who was a senior adviser to former President Barack Obama, said the best Democratic campaign will be the one that can 'raise the stakes.' 'You need someone who is tough enough to take on Trump, for sure. But what you want is someone who is inspiring,' he said, cautioning that it's still early and potential candidates could change their approach. 'If your message is 'They punch me in the gut, I punch them in the face,' that is not an inspiring message,' he said. 'We have to make this election about big things, and we have to inspire people.' Last week's election showcased a variety of strategies. On election night, Warren declared that Trump and his 'corrupt friends' had spent two years 'building a wall of anger and division and resentment.' In her speech, she referenced the 'fight' ahead more than two dozen times. 'Tonight, as the first cracks begin to appear in that wall, let us declare that our fight is not over until we have transformed our government ... into one that works, not just for the rich and the powerful but for everyone,' Warren said. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat and potential presidential candidate, spoke of an electorate that voted for the way politics can and should be. She described a final meeting with the late Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona in which he pointed to a passage in his book that said, 'There is nothing more liberating than fighting for a cause larger than yourself.' 'That is what Minnesota voted for today,' Klobuchar said. 'Minnesota voted for patriotism, Minnesota voted for tolerance, Minnesota voted for people who believe in opportunity.' In a victory speech in Ohio, where Brown notched an easy win even as other Democrats there struggled, he appeared to test a populist pitch for the White House. 'When we fight for workers, we fight for all people, whether they punch a clock or swipe a badge, earn a salary or make tips. Whether they are raising children or caring for an aging parent,' he said. Later, Brown urged the nation to look to the Midwest, and particularly Ohio, and to take note of how his state celebrates workers. 'That is the message coming out of Ohio in 2018, and that is the blueprint for our nation in 2020,' he said. Diane Feldman, a pollster for Brown's 2018 race, said Brown tends to talk 'about who he's for, rather than who he's against,' and described his message as an 'affirmative one.' 'There's going to be a discussion about whether the Democratic Party defines itself in opposition to Trump or whether the Democratic Party really has something to assert about who we're for or what we're for and what that means,' Feldman said. 'While we're all against Trump, we also need to be clear on what we would change in ways that would be helpful to people.' Perhaps no one in the potential field has demonstrated the impulse to fight than Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for adult-film star Stormy Daniels and a vocal Trump critic. Avenatti, who has said he is considering a 2020 run, said in his first early state speech as a potential political candidate that Democrats 'must be a party that fights fire with fire.' Avenatti was arrested this week in Los Angeles on allegations of domestic violence, which he has denied. Tom Steyer, the billionaire investor and Democratic activist who is considering jumping into the 2020 race himself, said Democrats need someone who can explain to voters 'not just how stupid and misguided what's going on right now is,' but who can also speak to the opportunity ahead of the country to course-correct.' 'It's a hell of a good thing to run your mouth, but when the time comes, the American people need someone to produce, someone who understands what's going on and is not just flapping their gums,' Steyer said. Donna Edwards, who represented Maryland in Congress for four terms before giving up the seat to run for Senate, said she hoped that Democrats would not 'take on Trump by being Trump,' and would be capable of speaking to the broader interests of Democrats and left-leaning independents across the country. 'I think as Democrats we have to be smart — we're always so good at doing policy,' Edwards said. 'We live and die on our policy, but we have to have that unique combo of the policy and the personality that fits the entire country, and I think that's going to be the challenge.
  • Miriam Adelson is a doctor, philanthropist and humanitarian, but is perhaps best known as the wife of Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate considered one of the nation's most powerful Republican donors. She gets to add a new title Friday when President Donald Trump honors her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Miriam Adelson is among seven people Trump is recognizing with the medal, the highest honor America can give a civilian. The other recipients include retiring Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, one of the longest-serving senators in U.S. history; Alan Page, who was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court after an NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears; and Roger Staubach, the Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboys quarterback. Posthumous honors are being granted to Elvis Presley, Babe Ruth and Antonin Scalia, the conservative Supreme Court justice. The Adelsons gave Trump's presidential campaign a $30 million boost in the final months of the 2016 race. The couple followed up this election cycle by donating $100 million to the Republican Party for last week's midterms. Miriam Adelson, 73, is an Israeli-born, naturalized U.S. citizen who earned a medical degree from Tel Aviv University and founded a pair of drug abuse treatment and research centers in Las Vegas and Tel Aviv. She and her husband own the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Israel Hayom newspapers. The Adelsons are also avid supporters of Israel. Their passion for strengthening the country, along with Israel-U.S. relations, has helped keep such policy priorities as relocating the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem front and center in the Republican Party and the Trump administration. Trump moved the embassy in May, and Sheldon Adelson, who had offered to personally fund the move, was seated in the front row for the ceremony. Robert Weissman, president of public interest group Public Citizen, said it was difficult to believe the decision to recognize Miriam Adelson was based on merit. 'It's emblematic of the corrupt and transactional presidency of Donald Trump, and it is a shame, but not a surprise, that he is corroding and corrupting a civic treasure, an honor like the Medal of Freedom,' Weissman said. Lindsay Walters, a White House spokeswoman, said Trump used the process that previous administrations have followed to settle on his group of honorees. The process was coordinated by the office of the staff secretary, taking into account recommendations from the public, relevant presidential advisory bodies, the Cabinet and senior White House staff, she said. The award is given to individuals 'who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.' Miriam Adelson said she is 'deeply humbled and moved by this exceptional honor.' 'Liberty is at the heart of my decades of work against substance abuse. Drug dependency is enslavement, for the user and his or her family and society, and treatment an emancipation,' she said in a statement released Thursday by Las Vegas Sands Corp., a company owned by Sheldon Adelson that operates hotels and casinos around the world. 'Together, my husband, Sheldon, and I have dedicated our lives to freedom: to a free market that benefits the greater good and to philanthropic endeavors that succor those suffering from poverty and disease.' E. Fletcher McClellan, a political science professor at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, said there are no limitations on who can receive the presidential honor. 'He has total discretion as to who and when and how,' said McClellan, who has studied the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Christopher Devine, a politics professor at the University of Dayton, questioned Miriam Adelson's impact on American culture or national interests as compared to past recipients like Oprah Winfrey or Bruce Springsteen. Both Winfrey and Springsteen received medals from President Barack Obama, whom they supported politically. 'This is what leaves many people wondering whether President Trump singled her out for an award as something of a thank-you for her and husband Sheldon Adelson's very substantial donations to Republican candidates and causes over the years, including ones in support of Trump's election in 2016,' said Devine, who wrote a book about the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Devine said that while Miriam Adelson isn't the first campaign contributor to receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the size of her campaign contributions sets her apart from the rest. ___ Associated Press writers Steve Peoples in New York, Michelle Price in Las Vegas and Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report. ___ Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap
  • In a speech to fellow Republicans in May, U.S. Rep. Mimi Walters issued an ominous warning about the coming election — California Democrats, she said, were 'coming for all of us.' She was right. The congresswoman's stunning defeat Thursday in the heart of Orange County, once a nationally known Republican stronghold, extended a Democratic rout that has seen five GOP-held House seats fall in the state, with another one threatened. Last week's election delivered mixed results around the U.S. — Republicans held the Senate, Democrats seized the House — but in California voters turned the state an even deeper shade of Democratic blue. With Walters' loss to newcomer Katie Porter, Democrats will hold a 44-9 edge in U.S. House seats, with another Orange County GOP seat in peril. The county was once home to President Richard Nixon and was considered a foundation of the modern conservative movement, gaining the moniker 'Reagan country.' Democrats are on track to hold every statewide office — again. And there wasn't even a Republican on the ballot for U.S. Senate. 'The California Republican Party isn't salvageable at this time,' concluded Kristin Olsen, a former Republican leader in the state Assembly. 'The Grand Old Party is dead — partly because it has failed to separate itself from today's toxic, national brand of Republican politics,' she wrote in a column on the website CALmatters. Shawn Steel, one of the state's two Republican National Committee members, said her party has 'reached the point of desperation.' 'The party's problems have been around longer and run much deeper than any one person. From money to grassroots organization, California Republicans are completely outmatched,' Steel wrote on the Washington Examiner website. A generation ago, the state was once a reliable win for the GOP in presidential elections. And in Orange County, largely white, conservative homeowners delivered winning margins for Republicans year after year. But a surge in immigrants transformed the state and its voting patterns. The number of Hispanics, blacks and Asians has outnumbered whites since 1998. And many of those new voters lean Democratic. The number of registered Republicans has been in a freefall for years — even independents outnumber them. In a sign of what was to come, Hillary Clinton carried Orange County in the 2016 presidential election, the first Democrat to do so since the Depression era. A stronger tack leftward has now dramatically arrived. Walters' loss was a shock. By embracing Porter, the conservative-leaning district with a 7-point Republican registration edge embraced a protégé of Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a liberal favorite. Along with her loss in Orange County, 15-term Rep. Dana Rohrabacher was ousted from his nearby district. The seat held by retiring Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, which cuts across the southern part of the county, was taken by Democrat Mike Levin, an environmental attorney. The 39th District, anchored in the northern part of the county, remains undecided in a contest between Republican Young Kim and Democrat Gil Cisneros. In returns Thursday, Cisneros climbed into a 941-vote lead, after Kim held the early edge in a district held by retiring Republican Rep. Ed Royce. Meanwhile, Democrat Josh Harder seized the seat of Republican Rep. Jeff Denham in the farm belt, while Democrat Katie Hill took Republican Rep. Steve Knight's seat north of Los Angeles. Clearly, President Donald Trump was a factor. He lost California by over 4 million votes in 2016 and has remained unpopular, and many voters saw an opportunity to send a message to Washington. Walters and Rohrabacher, for example, were closely tied to the president, while Democratic candidates campaigned openly against Trump's agenda. But demographic changes have also helped Democrats, and in key congressional races they fielded a group of fresh faces, not career politicians. Steel, the GOP committeeman, noted that Democrats raised more money and did a better job registering voters and using social media. The state GOP has debated for years whether the party needs to turn to the political center, or right. As far back as 2007, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger warned the party was 'dying at the box office' and needed to claim issues usually associated with the Democratic agenda, including climate change and health care reform. The latest setbacks have set off a fresh round of Republican soul-searching. Travis Allen, a former GOP candidate for governor and ardent Trump supporter, said Thursday he was entering the race to be the state party leader. The party, he said, is at the 'lowest point it's been since the 1880s.
  • A judge is expected to announce Friday whether he will order the Trump administration to return the White House press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, an appointee of President Donald Trump, has set a hearing for Friday morning to announce his decision. CNN has asked the judge for an order that would force the White House to immediately hand back the credentials that give Acosta, CNN's chief White House correspondent, access to the White House complex for press briefings and other events. CNN wants Acosta's credentials restored while a lawsuit over his credentials' revocation goes forward. The White House revoked Acosta's credentials after he and Trump tangled during a press conference last week. Trump has made his dislike of CNN clear since before he took office and continuing into his presidency. He has described the network as 'fake news' both on Twitter and in public comments. At last week's press conference , which followed the midterm elections, Trump was taking questions from reporters and called on Acosta, who asked about Trump's statements about a caravan of migrants making its way to the U.S.-Mexico border. After a terse exchange, Trump told Acosta, 'That's enough,' several times while calling on another reporter. Acosta attempted to ask another question about special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation and initially declined to give up a hand-held microphone to a White House intern. Trump responded to Acosta by saying he wasn't concerned about the investigation, calling it a 'hoax,' and then criticized Acosta, calling him a 'rude, terrible person.' The White House pulled Acosta's credentials hours later. The White House's explanations for why it seized Acosta's credentials have shifted over the last week. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders initially explained the decision by accusing Acosta of making improper physical contact with the intern seeking to grab the microphone. But that rationale disappeared after witnesses backed Acosta's account that he was just trying to keep the microphone, and Sanders distributed a doctored video that made it appear Acosta was more aggressive than he actually was. On Tuesday, Sanders accused Acosta of being unprofessional by trying to dominate the questioning at the news conference.
  • A Republican U.S. senator from Mississippi is shown in a new video talking about 'liberal folks' and making it 'just a little more difficult' for them to vote. A campaign spokeswoman for Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith criticized the video, saying the senator was joking. The brief clip appeared on social media days after another video showed Hyde-Smith praising someone at a different event by saying: 'If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row.' Both videos were posted Thursday on Facebook and Twitter by Lamar White Jr., publisher of The Bayou Brief, a liberal-leaning Louisiana news site. He said he received them from a trusted source, and that neither video was edited to change Hyde-Smith's words. Hyde-Smith, who is white, faces Democrat Mike Espy, who is black, in a Nov. 27 runoff. The winner gets the final two years of a six-year term. Republicans hold most statewide offices in Mississippi, and this is the state's hardest-fought U.S. Senate race in a generation. Mississippi has a history of racially motivated lynchings. Civil rights activists were also beaten and killed in the state as they pushed for African-Americans' voting rights, particularly from the end of World War II until the 1960s. White said the latest video was shot Nov. 3 while Hyde-Smith campaigned in Starkville, home of Mississippi State University. 'And then they remind me, that there's a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who that maybe we don't want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that's a great idea,' Hyde-Smith tells a small group. Hyde-Smith campaign spokeswoman Melissa Scallan said of the new video Thursday: 'Obviously Sen. Hyde-Smith was making a joke and clearly the video was selectively edited.' Espy campaign spokesman Danny Blanton said: 'For a state like Mississippi, where voting rights were obtained through sweat and blood, everyone should appreciate that this is not a laughing matter. Mississippians deserve a senator who represents our best qualities, not a walking stereotype who embarrasses our state.' Espy is seeking to become Mississippi's first African-American U.S. senator since Reconstruction. Hyde-Smith, endorsed by President Donald Trump, is the first woman to represent Mississippi in either chamber of Congress. She has served since April, after Mississippi's governor appointed her to temporarily succeed longtime Republican Sen. Cochran, who retired. A political ad on Facebook this week uses a 1930 photo of a white crowd in Indiana posing around a tree as the lifeless bodies of two black men hang above them, lynched in nooses. The ad superimposes an unrelated photo of Hyde-Smith as text appears: 'This is where U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith would like to be.' The ad is paid for by PowerPACPlus, a California-based political action committee that has spent nearly $1.8 million in other advertising to support Espy. A video that surfaced Sunday shows Hyde-Smith at a Nov. 2 campaign event in Tupelo making the 'public hanging' comment. She said the phrase was 'an exaggerated expression of regard' for the supporter and 'any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.' At a news conference Monday, she would not answer reporters' repeated questions about the 'hanging' comment. Both Espy and the Hyde-Smith campaign condemned the ad. 'This is the same out-of-state group that is spending millions of dollars promoting Mike Espy and has now taken his campaign to the lowest depths imaginable,' Scallan said. 'It is time for Mike Espy to tell his group to end this appalling, divisive attack.' Espy said his campaign doesn't control what PowerPACPlus does, and he called the ad 'not helpful.' 'I can't make them pull it down because we didn't ask them to put it up,' Espy said. 'It's racially divisive. It's something that we didn't endorse, and we'd like them to pull it down.' Under federal campaign laws, super PACs are not allowed to coordinate with candidates. The PowerPACPlus website says the group's mission is 'to build the political power of America's multiracial majority.' Marvin Randolph, spokesman for PowerPACPlus, said the ad with the lynching image is the first in a series of online ads that will be supported by at least $25,000 in spending. 'We expect to reach over a million viewers online,' Randolph said. 'This ad will also appear on Instagram and Twitter.' Both national parties are putting money and effort into the special election. Hyde-Smith and Espy each received about 41 percent in a four-person field Nov. 6 to advance to the runoff. Espy in 1986 became Mississippi's first black U.S. House member since Reconstruction. In 1993 and 1994, he was U.S. agriculture secretary. ___ For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics . Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A judge is set to rule Friday in the lawsuit filed earlier this week by CNN against President Donald Trump and his top aides. >> Read more trending news Attorneys for the news network are arguing that Trump and his aides violated both the network’s and reporter Jim Acosta's constitutional rights when he was banned from the White House last week. Update 8:45 a.m. EST Nov. 16: U.S. District Court Judge Timothy J. Kelly is set to rule Friday on CNN’s request to have Acosta’s press credentials reinstated. Update 1:05 p.m. EST Nov. 15: A judge on Thursday delayed a scheduled ruling on the case, CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter said, citing court records. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy J. Kelly is scheduled to hand down his decision at 10 a.m. Friday on whether to grant a temporary restraining order in the case.  Update 5:40 p.m. EST Nov. 14: The judge in the CNN lawsuit against President Donald Trump and other administration officials over banning reporter Jim Acosta from the White House said he’ll issue a ruling Thursday at 3 p.m., according to news outlets. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy J. Kelly heard arguments from both sides in a two hour hearing Wednesday afternoon. It’s the first hearing in CNN and Acosta’s federal lawsuit against Trump and other administration officials over the suspension of Acosta’s White House press pass. The network and Acosta contend the suspension violated the First and Fifth Amendments. The White House said in a Justice Department filing Wednesday that it has “broad discretion” to decide which journalists get permanent press passes. Journalism advocates said that the White House position is a break with historical tradition, with past administrations granting press access to large and small news outlets, and that the Acosta suspension is an unprecedented step that could have a negative impact on journalism. Update 12:05 p.m. EST Nov. 14: In a court filing Wednesday, the Justice Department argued, 'No journalist has a First Amendment right to enter the White House,' after CNN sued the Trump administration for revoking Acosta’s press credentials, The Hill reported. 'The president and White House possess the same broad discretion to regulate access to the White House for journalists (and other members of the public) that they possess to select which journalists receive interviews, or which journalists they acknowledge at press conferences,' attorneys said in the filing, according to The Hill. Attorneys for CNN filed suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington. A judge scheduled a hearing in the case for 3 p.m. Wednesday. Update 11:45 a.m. EST Nov. 14: More than a dozen news organizations on Wednesday announced their intent to support CNN in the network’s suit against the Trump administration. 'Whether the news of the day concerns national security, the economy, or the environment, reporters covering the White House must remain free to ask questions,' officials from organizations including The Associated Press and The New York Times, said Wednesday in a joint statement.  'It is imperative that independent journalists have access to the President and his activities, and that journalists are not barred for arbitrary reasons.' Update 11:15 a.m. EST Nov. 14: Fox News plans to file an amicus brief in support of CNN in the news network's lawsuit against the Trump administration, Fox News president Jay Wallace said Wednesday in a statement. 'Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized,' Wallace said. 'While we don't condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the President and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people.' CNN filed suit against Trump and several officials Tuesday, days after reporter Jim Acosta had his press credentials revoked following a contentious exchange with the president. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused Acosta in a statement released after the incident of “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern.” Update 10:25 p.m. EST Nov. 13: A federal judge has given the Trump administration until 11 a.m. Wednesday morning to respond to CNN’s lawsuit demanding a temporary restraining order in the battle over the White House’s revocation of reporter Jim Acosta’s press credentials, according to The Washington Post. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Washington. CNN’s attorney said the network is considering whether to request financial damages in its claim against President Donald Trump. Original report: In the lawsuit, filed in D.C. District Court, attorneys for CNN asked for Acosta’s press credentials to be immediately reinstated and protected. >> White House suspends CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press credentials “While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone,” CNN officials said in a statement. “If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials.” Attorneys for CNN named six defendants in the suit, including Trump, chief of staff John Kelly and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The lawsuit alleged the decision to revoke Acosta’s credentials was a “severe and unprecedented punishment” following “years of hostility by President Trump against CNN and Acosta based on the contents of their reporting.” >> Sarah Sanders tweeted ‘doctored’ video of Jim Acosta: WaPost “(It’s) an unabashed attempt to censor the press and exclude reporters from the White House who challenge and dispute the President’s point of view,” CNN attorneys said in the lawsuit. Acosta’s press credentials were suspended Wednesday after a White House intern attempted to take his microphone during a news conference with Trump. Huckabee Sanders released a statement after the incident accusing Acosta of “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern.”
  • While allies of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi pressed hard this week to put her on the way to become the next Speaker of the House, a small group of Democratic holdouts is threatening to block her from getting to 218 votes on the floor in January, leaving Democrats uncertain about their leadership. “I’m concerned about the situation,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), as he left a closed door meeting of House Democrats at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday afternoon. “I can’t say that I’m optimistic,” Connolly told reporters, noting that those opposed to Pelosi as the next Speaker did not seem to be backing down. “I’m always true to my word,” said Rep.-Elect Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who made clear repeatedly during his campaign for Congress that he would not vote for Pelosi as Speaker. “Sometimes it’s good to have a fresh new face, and to have change and go forward with some new ideas, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that,” Van Drew told reporters. . @edokeefe: 'If the election were held today on the House floor do you have the votes to be elected Speaker?' @NancyPelosi: 'Yes.' pic.twitter.com/PUqW5bpgUr — CSPAN (@cspan) November 15, 2018 Meanwhile, Pelosi’s office continued on Thursday to churn out public endorsements from both established Democrats and those who have just been elected. “I truly believe that Rep. Pelosi has demonstrated the proven, tested leadership we need to confront the issues before our nation,” said Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). “We cannot afford to come up short.” As for recently elected lawmakers, two new Democrats from California said they would stick with their home state colleague, arguing Pelosi would deliver ‘leadership that is bold, pragmatic, and capable of swift results.’ “This is why we support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker,” wrote Katie Hill and Mike Levin, who won seats in southern California. But the math to 218 votes seemed somewhat fraught for Pelosi, as if Democrats end up with around 235-240 votes in the House, a relatively small slice of the party could block Pelosi’s ascension, much as the Freedom Caucus threatened to do for several years in the House with the GOP. Senior House Democratic lawmaker on if Pelosi can’t get the votes to become Speaker: “It’s who blinks first. Is it Nancy or is it the caucus?” Another sr Hse Dem on the leadership fight: “It’s going to get ugly” — Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) November 15, 2018 “We had the biggest victory since 1974,” Pelosi said. “All of us are committed to a better future for America’s working families.” Whether that story line includes Pelosi as Speaker again – that won’t be determined until the week after Thanksgiving.
  • Pasco County deputies and members of the community are working together to bring awareness to people who fail to stop for a stopped school bus. On Wednesday, Monica Douglas recorded a video of a caravan of drivers blowing past a stopped school bus unloaded children on U.S. 19 in Pasco County.  According to WFLA-TV, deputies ticketed 13 people during their multi-day operation at that location. The U.S. has recently seen numerous incidents involving children being hit by cars while waiting for the bus.  In Tampa, a car hit five children and two adults waiting for a bus.  Two of those children suffered serious injuries. Here’s Douglas’ video of the Pasco County operation in action: (Video)
  • Investigators with the FBI are probing the death of an American woman on a Princess Cruises ship bound for Aruba, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news The 52-year-old woman, whose name was not released, died early Tuesday while aboard the Royal Princess, The Associated Press reported. Princess Cruises officials told WPLG in a statement that Aruban authorities boarded the ship, which can carry 3,600 passengers, when it arrived in the country. “We are cooperating fully with the investigating authorities, including the FBI,” the statement said. “An official cause of death has not been announced.” Citing local media reports, CBS News reported that Aruban authorities are investigating the case as a possible homicide. The Royal Princess left Florida’s Port Everglades on Nov. 9 for a 7-day Southern Caribbean cruise. It will return on Saturday to Fort Lauderdale. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • In what has almost been a daily event since Election Day last week, Democrats won another GOP seat in the House on Thursday, as a new form of runoff election in Maine knocked off a Republican incumbent, increasing the gains of Democrats to 35 seats, with seven GOP seats still undecided. In Maine, Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) had asked a federal judge to block the final tabulation of results in his district under the format known as “ranked choice voting” – but the judge refused, saying that was a political question, as Maine voters had approved the new runoff format twice in statewide elections. Poliquin is the 26th House GOP incumbent to be defeated in last week’s elections; Democrats lead in three of the seven remaining undecided House races, while Repulbicans are ahead in the other four – as Democrats could win three or four more seats. “Now we’re getting up to forty,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “That’s really a very big – almost a tsunami,” arguing that Democrats had to overcome Republican gerrymanders to notch their victories. At her press conference, Nancy Pelosi notes this year's freshman Dem class is the biggest since 1974 'Watergate babies.' “I don’t know if this Congress will name itself, but we’re almost close to 60 new Democrats,” she says. — Ella Nilsen (@ella_nilsen) November 15, 2018 Regardless of what term you use to describe the gains by Democrats in the House, it will be the party’s biggest pickup since 1974, a class that was dubbed, “the Watergate babies,” when Democrats gained 49 seats. Overall, there will most likely be over 90 new members of the House, getting close to the total change in the Tea Party midterm election of 2010, when 94 new members arrived on Capitol Hill. While Pelosi expressed excitement about the growing number of new Democrats in the Congress, she flashed a bit of impatience with reporters on Thursday, as they pestered her again with questions about whether she would have the votes to once again be Speaker of the House. “I intend to win the Speakership,” said Pelosi, who served as Speaker for four years between 2007 and 2011. “I have overwhelming support in my caucus to be Speaker of the House,” Pelosi added, even as other Democrats were trying to come up with another candidate to oppose her. PELOSI latest: 1. Rep Jayapal isnt saying where she is – told us she, Rep. Pocan are meeting w Pelosi later. 2. Rep. Richmond (CBC chair) said he is not anti-Pelosi but if Fudge runs he will likely support. Also said he spoke w Fudge today and she did not bring up Speaker run. — Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) November 15, 2018 Pressed by reporters at a news conference, Pelosi said she would welcome a challenge by Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), or anyone else. “I say it to everybody, come on in, the water’s warm,” Pelosi said. While Republicans held their leadership elections this week – House Democrats won’t vote until after Thanksgiving.