Axios Oct 23
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Virginia gubernatorial race worries Democrats

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Northam and Gillespie debate last year. Photo: Steve Helber / AP

"The Democratic National Committee gathered [in Vegas] over the past week with one worry on every activist's mind: We'd better not lose the Virginia governor's race" 15 days from now, the WashPost's Dave Weigel and Ed O'Keefe write on A1.

Why it matters: "Defeat in Virginia could ... prompt another brawl between progressive activists and the party's establishment. Northam ... won his nomination over Sen. Bernie Sanders-backed former congressman Tom Perriello — a race that some activists saw as a replay of the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries."

More from the minds of Dems:

  • "It's a surprising case of the jitters over a place that hasn't elected a Republican to statewide office in eight years — and that voted resoundingly against Donald Trump last year. But nationally, Democrats haven't won a marquee race since losing the presidency. They lag Republicans in fundraising."
  • "A loss for Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam against Republican Ed Gillespie on Nov. 7 could stir doubts about message and strategy just as the party is gearing up nationally for next year's ... midterm elections."

Be smart: Axios' Mike Allen lives in Virginia and covered Old Dominion politics in his well-spent youth, so he hears a lot about this race. He says: "The Real Clear Politics average has Northam, the Democrat, ahead by 5.8 points. Most people I talk to in both parties assume he'll win: Gillespie is the underdog because Trump plays so poorly in 'vote-rich Northern Virginia.'"

  • But some Republicans who have been pessimistic are now more hopeful that there are silent pockets of Trump voters in rural areas who could make this more of a brawl than polls have suggested.
Mike Allen 4 hours ago
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A White House olive branch: no plan to fire Mueller

Photo: Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images

After a weekend at war with the Mueller investigation, the White House is extending an olive branch. Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer handling the probe, plans to issue this statement:

“In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”

Why it matters: The White House strategy had been to cooperate with Mueller. So this is an effort to turn down the temperature after a weekend of increasingly personal provocations aimed at the special counsel.

Jonathan Swan 6 hours ago
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Trump's trade plan that would blow up the WTO

President Trump announces tariffs on steel and aluminum earlier this month, flanked by Steven Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, Robert Lighthizer, and Peter Navarro. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

For months, President Donald Trump has been badgering his economic advisors to give him broad, unilateral authority to raise tariffs — a move that would all but break the World Trade Organization.

His favorite word: “reciprocal.” He’s always complaining to staff about the fact that the U.S. has much lower tariffs on some foreign goods than other countries have on the same American-made goods. The key example is cars: The European Union has a 10 percent tariff on all cars, including those manufactured in America, and China hits all foreign-made cars with 25 percent tariffs. But the U.S. only charges 2.5 percent for foreign cars we import.