Get the latest market trends in your inbox

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with the Axios Markets newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

President Trump loves nothing more than when his opponents try to litigate his insults, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is trying to do with "Pocahontas," a staple riff at his rallies.

The big picture: Trump's never more comfortable than on this terrain, and "Pocahontas" is one of his all-time favorites, according to aides.

  • But he also is especially proud of "Da Nang Dick" Blumenthal, for the exaggerated military record of the Democratic senator from Connecticut.
  • Trump also regularly hits "Sleepy Joe" Biden these days.
  • In Trump’s mind, his 2016 nicknames weren’t a sideshow, but were one of the central reasons he crushed his primary opponents ("Little Marco" Rubio, "Low Energy Jeb" Bush, "Lyin' Ted" Cruz) and ultimately beat "Crooked Hillary."

Trump thinks names matter — in retail marketing and in politics:

  • The president spends inordinately more time thinking about how to brand and sell policies than he does studying the details of the policies themselves.
  • For example, one of the moments that most animated him during the tax reform debate was when he came up with the idea of calling the bill the “Cut, Cut, Cut Act.” He still rues that the “stiffs” in Congress insisted on calling it "the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017."

Trump's nicknames slyly capitalize on and exacerbate a real or perceived weakness:

  • A former aide said: "You hear them and laugh, and then they say: 'You know what? He’s kinda right!'"

Be smart ... Trump's "Pocahontas" nickname, as offensive as it may be, has been wickedly effective from his point of view:

  • It clearly got in Warren's head: The fact that she got a DNA test, let alone is doing a massive rollout of the results, shows how much it's on her mind.
  • It's both evocative and provocative: It now becomes a symbol of whether she's honest. Did she lie to advance her academic career?

P.S. Tweets by a couple of leading Dems:

  • Jim Messina, Obama's 2012 campaign manager: "Argue the substance all you want, but why 22 days before a crucial election where we MUST win house and senate to save America, why did @SenWarren have to do her announcement now? Why can’t Dems ever stay focused???"
  • David Axelrod, Obama's strategist, on a video Warren posted about her heritage and the DNA test: "Pretty extraordinary video to surface even before you enter the race. It says: 1) @SenWarren is 100% running. 2 ) She thinks this Pocahontas crap is a potential problem. 3) She wants to dispose of it now, lest she be Birtherized. The risk I’m sure she considered? This elevates it."

Go deeper

10 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.