Let me tell you a ghost story. We are, after all, only a month out from Hallowe’en. It’s about a titan of American politics, who reshaped the nation’s, and the West’s, history over the tail-end of the last century. His leadership helped thaw the Cold War and transform the country’s languishing economy. And now, four decades later, his specter still looms large over the party he recalibrated. Tonight, the GOP’s undercard contenders will clash at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. And you can be darn sure his name will come up a lot.
In last month’s debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, America’s 40th president was the subject of one of many flashpoints between former VP Mike Pence and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy. Responding to a barb from Pence, Vivek made reference to one of Reagan’s most iconic speeches: “It is not morning in America. We are in a dark moment. We’re in a cold cultural civil war.” The August, Trumpless debate was characterized to me by Vivek’s top advisor as, “Vivek Ramaswamy 1, establishment GOP candidates 0. It was Vivek versus everybody else.”
Tonight in California, don’t be surprised if a similar pattern emerges, as the boomer Republican old guard lauds Reagan while the chippy millennial candidate offers a doomer contrast and bleaker, more Trumpian take on the path ahead for America.
That’s if you’re watching at all, of course: Semafor reports that Fox are selling half-price ad slots for the bout. “Sans Trump… these debates just aren’t big-time TV, because the GOP primary race has become a snoozer,” one buyer told Max Tani. What use is a good ghost story if there’s no one to haunt?
On our radar
THROUGH THE WIRE House Oversight Committee chairman James Comer revealed that when President Joe Biden was running for office in 2019, his Delaware home received wires of hundreds of thousands of dollars thanks to his son Hunter. Comer specifies that three different wires worth $260,000 were all sent from Beijing.
DRAGGING ON A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Texas’s attempt to limit drag performances in public places was unconstitutional. US District Judge David Hittner characterized drag as a form of expressive speech protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment.
SHUTDOWN IMMINENT? House Republicans rejected the bipartisan Senate bill aiming to fund the government, increasing the likelihood of a government shutdown next week.
North Korea releases US soldier Travis King
Travis King, the American soldier detained two months ago after crossing into North Korea, has been remanded to US custody in mainland China.
“The relevant organ of the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] decided to expel Travis King, a soldier of the US Army who illegally intruded into the territory of the DPRK, under the law of the Republic,” Korean Central News Agency, a state-owned media outlet, wrote Wednesday morning, according to translations provided by Yonhap News Agency.
National security advisor Jake Sullivan weighed in, thanking the officials involved in King’s release. “We appreciate the dedication of the interagency team that has worked tirelessly… we thank the government of Sweden for its diplomatic role… and the government of the People’s Republic of China for its assistance in facilitating the transit of Private King.”
–Juan P. Villasmil
Poll: Democrats incompetent
A new survey from Morning Consult found that the Democratic Party is facing a crisis of confidence. Voters are more likely to see the Republican Party as capable of governing, keeping the country safe and tackling big issues — and as more relatable to the average American. Nearly half of voters now believe the Democrats are “too liberal” — driven by a ten-point increase among Democratic voters who believe their party has gone too far left. Only 38 percent of voters similarly believe the GOP is “too conservative.” This, combined with a new WaPo poll that shows the president down ten points in a head-to-head matchup with Trump, should give pause to Biden’s strategy of campaigning against “Extreme MAGA Republicans.”