Trump’s debate debacle sparks new fears in the GOP | #predators | #childpredators | #kids | #parenting | #parenting | #kids

with help from Andrew Desiderio

PANIC AT THE DISCOAnother week, another news cycle of Republicans begging President Donald Trump to put out a self-made fire. Last week, the GOP was pleading with Trump to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. But this week, they’re urging the president to more forcefully denounce white supremacy, just his latest headache-inducing controversy for the GOP. (Spoiler alert: Trump has still done neither.)

Republicans, like the rest of the nation, were reeling yesterday from the disastrous first presidential debate: Sen. Ben Sasse called it a “s— show,” Sen. Mitt Romney thought it was an “embarrassment”, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski said it was “awful.” It seems like very few, if any, GOP lawmakers were willing to say Trump helped himself with his debate performance. In fact, some of them are privately worried it will actually damage him and the party come November.

Most problematic for the GOP was that the president did not explicitly condemn white nationalists and other domestic terrorist groups when given the direct opportunity by the moderator, instead telling the far-right Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” For some, it was a flashback to when Trump claimed there were “very fine people on both sides” of a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Republicans on Capitol Hill made crystal clear that they don’t support white supremacy and called on Trump to clarify his remarks. Sen. John Thune, a member of leadership, urged Trump to “clear it up”; Sen. Tim Scott, the Senate’s lone black Republican, said he thought the president “misspoke” and “should correct it”; and Sen. Susan Collins, who is in a tough race, said he “absolutely” needs to denounce white supremacy and believes it was a mistake that he didn’t do so right away.

After facing a barrage of bipartisan criticism, Trump tried to clean up his remarks Wednesday afternoon. “I don’t know who the Proud Boys are,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn. “Whoever they are, they need to stand down.” But it was hardly the clear and forceful denunciation that members of his own party had been looking for, leaving Republicans still feeling uneasy. The dispatch from Nick Niedzwiadek, Marianne and Burgess: https://politi.co/34bXpdA.

MEANWHILE … Democrats felt quite differently about the whole debacle. While they agreed the debate was a mess, Dems are urging Joe Biden to keep debating Trump, arguing that the striking contrast between the two candidates gives Biden a leg up in the race. “The American people saw what Donald Trump is all about and sometimes people just see clips on the news of his rallies. And I think it’s important for them to see that. So yes, I think that he should continue doing these debates,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). The latest from Burgess and Marianne: https://politi.co/33f5IGe.

Related reads: “G.O.P. Alarmed by Trump’s Comments on Extremist Group, Fearing a Drag on the Party,” by NYT’s Alexander Burns, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman: https://nyti.ms/3ihLq3a; and “Belligerent Trump debate performance stokes fears among Republicans about November,” from WaPo’s Robert Costa and Matt Viser: https://wapo.st/34dONTD.

IT AIN’T OVER, TILL IT’S OVER –– House Democrats are giving themselves one more day — really this time! — to clinch a bipartisan agreement on coronavirus aid. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met in person with Speaker Nancy Pelosi for over an hour yesterday to present the GOP’s counter offer and then huddled with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Today, Secretary Mnuchin and I had an extensive conversation and we found areas where we are seeking further clarification,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Our conversations will continue.”

Mnuchin also struck a pretty positive tone after the meeting. “We made a lot of progress over the last few days,” Mnuchin told reporters as he left the Capitol. “We still don’t have an agreement, but we have more work to do. And we’re gonna see where we end up.”

But Pelosi told her members during a private caucus call that there are still some major outstanding issues, including state and local money and liability reform. Not to mention, they’re still far apart on a price tag: Dems are pushing for $2.2 trillion, but the GOP’s latest offer was roughly $1.5 trillion. “The president instructed us to come up significantly, so we have come up from the trillion dollar deal,” Mnuchin said on Fox Business last night.

If they don’t reach a deal today, House Dems will press ahead with a floor vote on their own relief bill. (Lawmakers were supposed to vote yesterday, but Dems gave themselves another day to strike a deal.) Of course, the measure would go nowhere in the GOP-controlled Senate. But it’s a contingency plan for if the bipartisan talks go south, so vulnerable frontline Democrats don’t go home totally empty handed. The latest from Sarah, Heather and Bres: https://politi.co/3jmj5tU.

DETAILS of Mnuchin’s $1.6T offer to Pelosi, via Roll Call’s Lindsey McPherson (@lindsemcpherson):

-$250B for state/local

-$400 weekly federal unemployment

-$150B education

-$75B testing/tracing [meets Dem demand]

-$60B rental/mortgage assistance

-$15B food assistance

GOOD READ: “Covering Congress amid coronavirus means masks, hallway contortions and apologies for the crying baby,” via Sarah D. Wire of the Los Angeles Times: https://lat.ms/3n6kqXR.

SCOTUS SHOWDOWN — Not a whole lot of news on the SCOTUS front yesterday. Trump’s nominee to the high court, Amy Coney Barrett, continued to meet with senators and make the rounds on Capitol Hill. And Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote a letter to Chairman Lindsey Graham formally objecting to the GOP’s lightning-fast confirmation plans and questioning whether there’s enough time for follow-up questions and the FBI background check.

An excerpt from their letter: “The timeline for consideration of Judge Barrett’s nomination is incompatible with the Senate’s constitutional role. We again urge you to delay consideration of this nomination until after the presidential inauguration. The Senate and the American public deserve a deliberative, thorough process, and this falls far short.”

One tidbit of scheduling news, per WaPo’s Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim): “Inside the GOP lunch today, McConnell warned senators to prepare to be in session next week (!) due to procedural tactics from Dems that would force senators to be here, per sources. Ds say no final decision but they are pulling out all procedural weapons as they protest SCOTUS”

Related read: “Female Republican senators laud Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett: ‘This is what a mom can do,’” from Fox News’ Marisa Schultz: https://fxn.ws/3ipoNde.

GOOD MORNING! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill, on this Thursday, Oct. 1, where your host is ready to get spooky — bring on the horror films and Halloween candy!

WEDNESDAY’S MOST CLICKED: POLITICO’s report on Sen. Chuck Schumer forcing the GOP to go on the record on dismantling the Affordable Care Act was the big winner.

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