“Last night’s vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine had fewer TV viewers than any VP debate since 2000,” according to Nielsen data from ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox that showed 36 million viewers tuned in. “For comparison, the 2012 VP debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan averaged over 51 million viewers. The 2008 debate between Biden and Sarah Palin set a high watermark for viewership with 70 million, while the 2004 debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards averaged just under 44 million viewers.” (Politico)
DEBATE PREP. A town-hall style debate could pose challenges for Donald Trump if he can’t resist being baited into harsh personal attacks. “Half the questions will come from an audience of undecided voters, selected to be there by the Gallup Organization … settling scores may be exactly the wrong approach in a town-hall debate, where the candidates will be responding to the specific concerns of individual Americans, and where voters will be studying the candidates for their ability to relate to those concerns.”
Still, “Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been careful about managing expectations for Sunday’s debate. ‘She does great in these formats and we expect she will do well here too, but it’s not a bad format for Trump,’ said Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri.” (Washington Post)
SHOW ME THE MONEY. “Super PACs seeking to influence the 2016 elections have collected more than $1 billion, a record haul driven by jumbo-sized contributions from rich donors on both sides of the aisle.”
“Just 10 mega-donor individuals and couples contributed nearly 20 percent of the $1.1 billion raised by super PACs by the end of August, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal campaign finance reports.” The breakdown of those donors is split fairly evenly — four Democrats, five Republicans and one Independent. Also notable: the “total exceeds the $853 million that super PACs collected in the entire 2012 cycle.” (Washington Post)
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"The Trump administration is putting pressure on Senate Republicans to crack down on Democratic efforts to delay its agenda, fueling talk about the need for rules reform among Republicans on Capitol Hill. Republicans are in discussions with Democrats about bipartisan changes to Senate rules to speed up consideration of President Trump’s judicial and executive branch nominees, but if that effort flounders — as similar ones have in the past — they’re not ruling out unilateral action."
During his campaign, Donald Trump indicated to Washington Post reporters that he'd like to have White House employees sign nondisclosure agreements. That is, in fact, what he's done, according to a scoop by the Post's Ruth Marcus. "Some balked at first but, pressed by then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and the White House Counsel’s Office, ultimately complied, concluding that the agreements would likely not be enforceable in any event." The administration intended the agreements to remain in force beyond Trump's tenure. An early draft included penalties of up to $10 million.
"Trump is asking for a bill" that would effectively break the WTO. One of the core WTO principles — which has underpinned globalization and trade for 70 years — is an idea called 'most favored nation status.' Countries that belong to the WTO have all agreed to charge the same tariff rate for imports from all other WTO members." But Trump covets reciprocal tariffs "nation-by-nation, product-by-product." The GOP free-traders in Congress are unlikely to support such an effort.