TRNS News Notes is brought to you by Victoria Jones. Victoria Jones is the Chief White House correspondent and global analyst of the Washington DC based Talk Radio News Service, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.

News Now

  • GOP debate: Candidates rip CNBC moderators
  • GOP debate: Sharp tone
  • Early debate: Candidates gasp for air
  • House approves budget deal
  • Republicans nominate Ryan as speaker
  • Former GOP speaker pleads guilty
  • Kerry says Syria talks “most promising”
  • “Officer Slam” fired over student arrest
GOP Debate: Candidates Rip CNBC Moderators (CNN, Politico, TRNS, TRNS, me)
• CNBC’s moderators, more used to questioning CEOs, were out of their depth Wednesday night at the GOP presidential debate. In the final minutes, angry representatives from the campaigns began confronting Republican National Committee officials to voice complaints about the tone and substance of the debate (was fun to watch, though)
• When the faceoff was over, RNC chair Reince Priebus blasted CNBC forr asking “gotcha” questions and said the network “should be ashamed.” Brian Steel, CNBC’s senior VP for PR, stood by the moderators’ performance, “People who want to be president of the U.S. should be able to answer tough questions,” he said in a statement (some tough / lots rubbish)
• At one point during the debate, Jeb Bush campaign manager Danny Diaz began pounding on the control room door, shouting at the CNBC producers about how the network wasn’t giving equal time to all the candidates, a source with a rival campaign told CNN (Bush would have been better off with less time – foot in mouth every time he spoke)
• Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) thundered: “This is not a cage match. And you look at the questions – Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign? Jeb Bush,why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues people care about?”
• When John Harwood interrupted Gov Christie (R-NJ), he looked Harwood in the eye and said, “Even in New Jersey what you’re doing is called rude.” CNBC’s commentary between debates was seventh grade stuff. Journos and pundits on Twitter panned it. “Is this a public access channel? asked Jon Favreau, former speechwriter for President Obama


GOP Debate: Sharp Tone (NYT, WaPo, Reuters, WSJ, TRNS,
• Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla) had the best night of his campaign, showing the political talent that many insiders had long seen in him. Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) emerged as a champion of social conservatives at Wednesday’s GOP presidential debate at the University of Colorado Boulder (but contrast was Rubio as sunny and Cruz as cloudy)
• Former Gov Jeb Bush (R-Fla), under great pressure to have a strong debate that would reassure his supporters and help his struggling campaign, had another lackluster night, raising the possibility that uncommitted donors will write him off and throw in their lot with candidates like Rubio, who they think can actually win (Bush can’t win)
• Bush blasted Rubio over missing more votes than any other senator this year. “You get like three days where you have to show up?” Rubio hit back hard, noting that Bush has said he’s modeling his campaign after Sen John McCain’s (R-Ariz) in 2008, who missed lots of votes and “someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.”
• Cruz stood out far more than in the first two debate, reminding viewers of his fights against Republican leaders and he ripped the news media in a rant that delighted the crowd (see above). He had a very good night. Where, by the way, was Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky)? He spoke, but nothing seemed to register. Mike Huckabee was OK – but forgettable


• Gov John Kasich (R-Ohio) started strong, referring to other Republicans as not ready for the presidency or wrong on issues, like Trump’s plan to deport unauthorized immigrants. Trump hit back. “He was such a nice man, and he said, ‘Oh, I’m never going to attack.’ But then his poll numbers tanked.” Trump was nearly invisible. Deliberate – or sidelined? Hmmm
• Ben Carson defended his plan to take inspiration from God and push for a tax plan based on tithing, in which people would pay close to 15% of income in taxes, while deductions and loopholes would be eliminated. When a moderator insisted his plan would leave a trillion dollar revenue hole, Carson said, “That’s not true.” Carson seemed shaky when talking policy
• Carly Fiorina didn’t make as much of an impact as at the last debate. She started by saying she had been told she didn’t smile enough in the first debate and smiled when she said it. Then she said there were serious issues to talk about. She didn’t smile much after that. She defended her Hewlett Packard record as CEO

• Overall, Rubio and Cruz came out ahead. Kasich did well. Christie didn’t hurt himself. Carson probably helped himself with those who already liked him. I thought he was empty on substance. Trump got little debate time, which may have helped him. Bush seemed done. Fiorina was neutral. Paul has no reason to be in the race, neither does Huckabee, neither does Paul

Early Debate: Candidates Gasp For Air (NYT, Politico, TRNS, me)
• Oh, you again? The four Republican candidates who were banished for the third time to an early-evening debate looked like diners at a table in SIberia, straining to make conversation as they looked past one another at what they were missing. (there’s no reason for any of them to be in the race at this point)
• Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki and Rick Santorum all needed a big moment at Wednesday night’s GOP presidential debate to seize voters’ attention. They didn’t get it. “Let me get a word in edgewise,” Pataki shouted at one point throwing his arms out in exasperation
• The four candidates rarely engaged with one another and instead tried to get in their talking points. At one point, Santorum managed to launch into an Obamacare attack as he answered a question on beer mergers (weird). Jindal repeatedly spoke about how he would “shrink the govt.” Mostly, they went after Democrats
• “Barack Obama is an incompetent commander in chief,” Graham said. Pataki accused Obama of being the first president to “hold our military hostage.” And Jindal said of the Democrats, “They want to take away our gun rights. They want to take away our religious liberty.”
• Graham went for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. “The No. 1 candidate says she was flat broke even though she spent eight years in the WH. The No.2 guy went to the Soviet Union on his honeymoon and I don’t think he ever came back.”


• The blimp is down. Two armed F-16 fighter jets chased a massive, out-of-control U.S. Army blimp across Maryland and Pennsylvania Wednesday, NORAD said, after it came loose. The blimp’s 6,700 foot tether snagged power lines, taking out electricity for some 30,000 people. Naughty blimp. The blimp was “grounded” in Pennsylvania at 3:40 pm (Daily Beast, TRNS, me)
House Approves Budget Deal (Politico, Hill, WSJ, TRNS, me)
• The House passed, 266 to 176, an $80 billion budget deal on Wednesday that will eliminate high-stakes fiscal battles until 2017. The vote was a sold win for Republican leaders who have often struggled to get enough GOP support for budgets. It would mean no govt shutdowns for a while and and no debt default – Treasury warns that would be 3 November
• But 79 Republicans joined 187 Democrats to pass the deal – giving speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) a final legislative win before he retires at the end of this week (boxes piling up in his office). He, along with Senate GOP leaders and the WH, was a key player in crafting the deal, as he worked to “clean out the barn” before Rep Paul Ryan (R-Wis) takes the gavel
• “This agreement is by no means perfect, but on balance it’s a good agreement for our troops, for taxpayers and for the American people,” Boehner said. Still, 167 Republicans voted against the deal. Wednesday, the House Freedom Caucus said they would vote against the bill as a bloc, calling it a “fiscal monstrosity.”


• The budget deal raises spending caps on both domestic and defense over the next two years and makes changes to the Social Security disability program while raising the debt limit until March 2017. It now moves to the Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) is facing strong objections from the right. Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky) plans to filibuster (can only delay)
• Even so, Senate leaders expect to pass the bill next week. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) called the deal “wonderful” because it lifted the spending limits imposed by the sequester over the last two years
• Conservatives loathe the deal. They’ve hammered leaders for negotiating in secret, without input from the rank-and-file and many of them have strong objections to raising the debt limit. “We’re robbing Peter to pay Paul…and I think it’s a big mistake,” said Freedom Caucus member Rep Matt Salmon (R-Ariz) before the vote
• GOP leaders worked right up to the final vote to secure enough Republican support to ensure passage. Leaders were able to overcome a last minute revolt from furious Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee who were protesting changes to crop insurance programs. They reached a deal to address the issue in an omnibus spending bill


• Democratic presidential hopeful Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) announced his support Wednesday for removing marijuana from the schedule of controlled substances regulated by the DEA – a move that would free states to legalize it without impediments from DC (WaPo)
Republicans Nominate Ryan as Speaker (Politico, Reuters, TRNS, me)
• House Republicans selected Rep Paul Ryan (R-Wis) as their nominee for speaker of the House on Wednesday, the first step in ending a month-long saga over the party’s leadership after John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) surprise resignation
• Ryan defeated Rep Daniel Webster (R-Fla) in a closed door election of House Republicans. Ryan received 200 votes. Webster received 43 votes, Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn) got one, as did Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) (I always wonder who the one person is)
• The full House is expected to ratify Ryan as speaker today in a floor vote. Boehner plans to leave Congress this week. Ryan, a 16-year member of Congress who was reluctantly lured into the race for speaker, has promised to empower committee chairs and rank-and-file members and to reform House rules. He vowed to “turn the page.”
• “Our party has lost its vision and we’re going to replace it with a vision,” Ryan told reporters after the vote. In a closed door meeting with colleagues Wednesday morning, Ryan said, “I don’t plan to be Caesar, calling all the shots around here,” according to Rep Matt Salmon (R-Ariz) (just as well. Caesar came to a very bad end)


• The Senate Wednesday approved a measure to extend federal transportation funding for three weeks, sending the bill to President Obama. Lawmakers say the temporary patch will provide time for them to finish work on a long-sought multiyear highway funding bill (Hill)


Former GOP Speaker Pleads Guilty (Chicago Tribune, WSJ, me)

• Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill) pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal criminal charge connected to alleged hush money payments, opening himself up to as much as six months in prison. Prosecutors dismissed a second charge of making a false statement to the FBI. He avoids a trial where more details surrounding the case would likely become public

• Flanked by his lawyers in front of the judge in Chicago, Hastert gave a short statement detailing the charge, saying he knew about the reporting requirements which he evaded, but wanted to keep secret how he planned to spend the money. “I didn’t want them to know,” he said, referring to bank officials (I’ll bet)

• Federal authorities said Hastert made multiple cash withdrawals in increments under $10,000 in an attempt to prevent bank officials from reporting the transactions. It drew the attention of investigators

• Prosecutors said the former speaker agreed in 2010 to pay a total of $3.5 million to a person known only as “Individual A” in order “to compensate for and keep confidential” certain misconduct. Details of the alleged misconduct weren’t disclosed in the indictment

• Federal law enforcement sources have told the Chicago Tribune that Hastert was paying to cover up the sexual abuse of a student when Hastert was a wrestling coach and teacher at Yorkville High School. As Hastert entered a black car after leaving the courthouse, a reporter shouted out, “Do you have anything to say to the public?” Hastert didn’t respond


Kerry Says Syria Talks “Most Promising” – Iran to Attend (WSJ, NYT, Bloomberg, me)

• SecState John Kerry, before traveling to Vienna for meetings on Syria on Friday, on Wednesday said the planned talks are the most most promising opportunity for a political settlement to the country’s 4 1/2 year civil war. The talks are expected to include Iran for the first time. Saudi Arabia will also be there – sparks could fly. Russia is also involved, among other nations

• Kerry, in a speech in DC on Wednesday, said any solution would have to chart “a course out of Hell.” He said world powers all agree that “the status quo is untenable” and are seeking a way to prevent ISIS from overrunning the country. “Surely we can find a way where one man does not stand in the way of the possibilities of peace.” (we’ll see)

• Kerry reiterated the Obama admin view that Russia should stop boosting President Assad and commit to taking on ISIS. Iran’s involvement in the talks follows a deal earlier this year to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of international economic sanctions

• At a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday, Sen Robert Menendez (D-MJ) said, “After 45 years of Democratic and Republican admins seeking to close the door on Russia’s sphere of influence in the Middle East, it seems to me like we’re swinging it wide open.”


• A day after SecDef Ash Carter promised more “direct action on the ground” in the fight against ISIS, the Iraqi govt said, “This is an Iraqi affair and the govt did not ask the U.S. Dept of Defense to be involved in direct operations,” a spox for Iraqi PM Haider al Abadi told NBC News on Wednesday (awkward) (Hill, me)

“Officer Slam” Fired Over Student Arrest (AP, CNN, NYDN, me)
• A white deputy who flipped a disruptive black student out of her desk and tossed her across her math class floor was fired Wednesday. Richland County, SC, Sheriff Leon Lott called his actions “unacceptable” and said videos recorded by her classmates show the girl posed no danger to anyone. “What he should not have done is throw the student,” Lott said

• Civil rights groups immediately praised the firing of Deputy Ben Fields, a veteran school resource officer and football coach at Spring Valley High School. Lott praised the FBI for agreeing to investigate whether civil rights were violated, and school district officials for promising to review how police are used for discipline

• The sheriff also had stern words for the student who started the confrontation by refusing to hand over her cellphone after her math teacher saw her texting in class – a violation of school policy. Both she and another student who verbally challenged the officer’s actions during the arrest still face charges of disturbing schools (officer should face charges)

• Raw: assault by officer Ben Fields on a teenage girl at Spring Valley High School in Richland County, South Carolina

• Lott said he wouldn’t describe Fields as remorseful, but rather sorry it all happened. Simone Martin, attorney for the other arrested student, Niya Kenny, said she’s been told “by a number of the students that he is referred to as Officer Slam as opposed to Officer Fields. And that’s telling.”

• An expelled student has claimed Fields targeted blacks and falsely  accused him of being a gang member in 2013, court records show. That case goes to trial in January. The girl who was thrown has a prominent attorney, Todd Rutherford, who also serves as House minority leader in South Carolina’s legislature

• Rutherford said the girl, in addition to suffering injuries on her face, neck and arm, recently lost her mother and is living in foster care. Her foster mother told NYDN that the young girl is devastated and emotionally traumatized by all that has happened to her. An attorney for Fields said Wednesday that his actions were “justified and lawful.”

• President Obama hosted Great Britain’s Prince Harry – and his now famous beard – in the Oval Office on Wednesday. Prince Harry’s visit to DC was to promote the Invictus Games, a sports tournament for wounded and injured veterans

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Nicholas Salazar, Justin Duckham and Loree Lewis contributed to this report


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