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: Sweaty, savage 3 hours
  • GOP debates: Winners
  • GOP debates: Losers
  • GOP early debate: Bottom feeders
  • Debates: 5 one-liners
  • Obama: “America’s great – right now”
  • Hoyer: GOP leaders should be “ashamed”
  • Boy handcuffed by cops: Took clock to school
  • Assad says he won’t quit
  • Pope visit: Will Congress behave badly?
GOP Debate: Sweaty, Savage 3 Hours
• I know there’s a drought in California – climate change – which topic the GOP presidential candidates on stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley last night tried to ignore  – but what’s up with the air conditioning? Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz oozed sweta. And three hours? Come on. Even “humble” Donald Trump went silent for 37 minutes
• There were 11 candidates at the main debate and nine of them competed to savage Trump. Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, soft-spoken didn’t lay a finger on Trump. Smart? It worked for him at the last debate. Trump babbled on foreign policy and was most happy with boasts and personal attacks


GOP Debate: Winners (LAT, Politico, WaPo, Reuters, NYT, TRNS, me)
• Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina was an effective counter-puncher against (glib and snide) Donald Trump. On his “face” comments, she said: “Women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr Trump said.” A shaken Trump bizarrely said “she’s got a beautiful face and she’s a beautiful woman” – she made clear she doesn’t care what he thinks
• Fiorina gained the biggest applause line of the night when she spoke passionately, and quite wrongly, about Planned Parenthood. She dared Democrats to watch the videos of “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking,” – there is no such thing in the video, which relies solely on an interview (crowd didn’t care, loved it)
• Jeb Bush hit Trump for insulting his wife, Mexican-born Columba, in a tweet and demanded he apologize directly to her. Trump (appallingly) refused the offer, but his face reddened. Bush’s problem was that he didn’t really shine until hour 3 when viewers had nodded off. He also had a great line about his mom still being angry with him for smoking pot in school


• Lindsey Graham stole the first debate. He was smart and funny, well-informed. Chris Christie, in the main debate, did well when he hammered Trump and Fiorina for playing “childish games” talking about their successful careers instead of about people who can’t get jobs
• Marco Rubio did extremely well with the time he was given. Not that much. Knowledgeable on foreign policy. He’s hoping that – in his mind – when Trump takes a nose dive in the winter – he can step in. He announced at the start that he’d brought his own water bottle – joke seemed a bit forced -he’s not a funny guy
• Ted Cruz knows how to talk to the Washington base. Obamacare, Supreme Court nominees, the way Washington works – Cruz bashed them all effectively. He also went out of his way to praise Trump – part of his strategy to suck up to Trump’s followers and win them over in case (as he hopes) Trump tanks


• Trump denied he tried to get former Gov Jeb Bush to expand casino gambling in Florida. Fact checkers say that’s – – – inaccurate (ie a lie). Trump babbled when it came to foreign policy. He said he’d get along with Putin and “with others and we will have a much more stable world” – in the context of Middle East conflict – implied he’d talk to ISIS (AP, Politico, WaPo, NYT, me)
GOP Debate: Losers (WaPo, Politico, me)
• Scott Walker desperately needed a moment to break through and he didn’t get one, even with his canned, straight to the camera lines. He didn’t get a question until 90 minutes into the debate (ouch). (basically an afterthought) His campaign is having a call with top donors today to reassure them (fly on wall)
• Mike Huckabee: Where. Was. He. Plus just about everything he said was inaccurate or just flat out false, so I’m not even going to begin to fact check it. He doesn’t care. His followers don’t care. Rand Paul was a bit of a nonentity or totally invisible. Good clash with Chris Christie on pot – but most viewers were asleep by then
• Rick Santorum just seemed really, really angry. He kept clashing with Lindsey Graham and came off worse (should have learned that in the Senate. Santorum needs to give it up and go home)
• John Kasich was both a loser and a winner, in my book. He was a loser because what he said won’t play with the GOP base. He was against closing down the govt, for keeping the Iran deal and making it work, and generally an experienced and knowledgeable Republican politician who knew what he was doing – that’s not what the crowd is craving


• Democratic presidential candidate Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) thought the debate was “really pretty sad.” He tweeted: “Will we hear anything about racial justice, income inequality or making college affordable?” “Have you heard anyone use the word ‘poverty’ yet? 47.7 million Americans living in poverty. No discussion” (TPM)
GOP Early Debate: Bottom Feeders (Politico, WaPo, WSJ, TRNS, TRNS, me)
• Sen Lindsey Graham came alive during the second tier debate Wednesday night, but Gov Bobby Jindal pushed to be the most die-hard conservative on stage. “It is time to get rid of the Republican Party,” Jindal said, saying his fellow Republicans should throw in the towel if they can’t defund Planned Parenthood
• When Rick Santorum attempted to claim that he had a plan to reform the country’s immigration system, Graham was having none of it. “I don’t remember the Santorum plan when I was in the Senate,” Graham said. As Santorum pressed that he had a bill, Graham noted that “it went nowhere.”
• Santorum blamed former President George W. Bush, who, he said, “won with Hispanics.” “Who won with Hispanics,” Graham responded, dripping with sarcasm. “Hispanics are Americans. In my world, Hispanics are Americans.” (thank you, Lindsey)
• On social issues, Jindal bemoaned the Supreme Court’s recent ruling making same sex marriage the law of the land and the recent jailing of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to a same sex couple. “Can we get a list of jobs Christians can’t have?” Jindal exclaimed (blank sheet – just don’t take a clock to school if you’re Muslim)
• Graham, along with former Gov George Pataki, pushed back, noting that judicial review has been in place for more than two centuries, referencing the Supreme Court’s 1803 Marbury v. Madison decision. Jindal and Pataki both wasted time early in the debate going after Donald Trump


• Was right-wing commentator Ann Coulter playing a drinking game while she was watching the debate? Tweets: “Cruz, Huckabee Rubio all mentioned ISRAEL in their response to: ‘What will AMERICA look like after you are president” – then “How many f—ing Jews do these people think there are in the United States?” Wow. Truly, completely showed her true colors


Debates: 5 One-Liners (Politico, Politico, me)
• Donald Trump on Rand Paul: “I never attacked him on his looks, and believe me there’s plenty of subject matter right there.” On George Pataki: “He wouldn’t be elected dog catcher right now.” Trump on his Secret Service code name: “Humble” (Bumble is more like it)
• Ben Carson: “I haven’t been
[to the White House] in seven years. I probably would have to have a food tester.”
• Carly Fiorina: “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr Trump said,” – hitting back at Trump’s “Look at that face” comment about Fiorina in Rolling Stone magazine
• Scott Walker: “We don’t need an ‘Apprentice’ in the White House. We have one right now,” on Trump’s lack of govt experience – good but clearly rehearsed
• Trump on radio show host and moderator Hugh Hewitt asking him earlier this month about Iranian Gen Qasem Suleimani: “Hugh was giving me a name – Arab name, Arab name, Arab name.” (bumble, bumble, bumble, babble, babble, babble on foreign policy)


• Where were Dana Bash and Hugh Hewitt? Seems like Donald Trump isn’t the only airtime hog around. Jake Tapper sucked up most of the air time, even though they asked better questions. The debate was too long, the candidates crumpled, sweated, the viewers were bored and Tapper had no control despite hogging the screen. #failCNN
Obama: “America’s Great Right Now” (WaPo, me)
• Without directly mentioning Donald Trump on Wednesday, President Obama took a swipe at the GOP frontrunner’s baseball cap message: “Make America Great Again.” “America’s winning – right now,” Obama told execs at a meeting of the Business Roundtable in DC. “America’s great – right now.”
• Obama delivered a tough message to China on cyber theft just ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit to DC next week. Obama suggested that if China didn’t stop stealing trade secrets, the U.S. had prepared “countervailing actions,” most likely in the form of economic sanctions
• Obama’s main goal was to puncture the narrative, ahead of Wed’s GOP debate, that America’s fortunes were declining. “I’m just going to go on a quick rant for a second,” Obama said. He mocked Republican candidates who suggest the U.S. is getting “out-dealt.” “Nobody outside the U.S. understands what we’re talking about,” Obama said
• Obama noted that the federal deficit has shrunk by two-thirds during the course of his presidency and that America’s companies were dominating the world’s fastest growing industries. “Our problem is not that China is going to out-negotiate is. That’s not our problem. Our problem is us, typically,” Obama said
• In particular, Obama pointed to the possibility of a looming govt shutdown. “The notion that we’d play chicken with an $18 trillion economy and global markets that are already skittish because of an issue around a women’s health provider…that’s not good policy-making.”


• UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that he was “shocked” after Hungarian police fired tear gas and water cannon to force refugees back from its border. Ban said such treatment of asylum seekers was “unacceptable.” Hundreds of refugees were involved in clashes at the Hungary/Serbia border on Wednesday, trying to break through a razor wire fence (BBC)

Hoyer: GOP Leaders Should be “Ashamed” (Hill, Politico, Hill, TRNS, me)

• House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) ripped House GOP leaders Wednesday at a presser: “Not to have a plan to articulate to any of you how we are going to keep the govt open eight days from now, without considering anything on the floor this week,…is dysfunctional. And if I were the leader or the speaker I would be ashamed of the fact that I’m in this position,”
• The govt is set to run out of money on 1 Oct unless Congress can pass a continuing resolution to stave off a shutdown. Democrats say they won’t vote for any funding measure that doesn’t relax spending restrictions, while nearly 4 dozen very conservative Republicans have said they can’t support any bill that doesn’t defund Planned Parenthood
• Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) will meet with President Obama at the WH today to discuss their endgame on spending talks. “We need to get rid of these vexatious riders. Planned Parenthood is one, abortion is the other,” Reid said
• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said Wednesday that he and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) are discussing a CR. He blamed Democrats for not allowing Republicans to move forward on any appropriations bills – but he’s refused for months to sit down with Democrats for talks
• Conservative Rep Tom McClintock (R-Calif) publicly resigned from the secretive House Freedom Caucus on Wednesday, saying repeated tactics employed “have repeatedly undermined the House’s ability to advance them.” He also criticized the caucus’s demands that funds for Planned Parenthood be blocked as part of a bill to keep the govt open – (unusual to quit it)

• Democratic presidential candidate Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) will will today unveil a bill aimed at overhauling the for-profit prison system. It calls on the federal govt to end contracting with private prisons within two years. It demands that Homeland Security ends the practice of detaining immigrant families “immediately,” among other things (Politico)

Boy Handcuffed by Cops: Took Clock to School (Dallas Morning News, NYT, Daily Beast, Hill, me)
• Monday, police officers in Irving, Texas, arrested a 14-year-old student named Ahmed Mohamed after he brought a homemade clock – an engineering project – to school, which his English teacher suspected might be a bomb. #IStandWithAhmed trended No. 1 on Twitter for all of Tuesday
• Ahmed, a student at MacArthur High School, landed in handcuffs and juvenile detention, accused of making a hoax bomb. Ahmed’s detention generated a national furor even after police said he wouldn’t be charged. Questions arose about whether he was targeted because of his religion (of course he was) He’s been suspended for three days (outrageous and racist)
• President Obama and other top leaders deplored the treatment of the young man. “Cool clock, Ahmed,” Obama tweeted. “Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.” Obama’s staff invited Ahmed to come to the WH for Astronomy Night. Scientists and Silicon Valley tweeted their support for Ahmed


• Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg tweeted: “Ahmed, if you ever want to come by Facebook, I’ve love to meet you. Keep building.” Twitter tweeted: “we 💜building things at Twitter, too. Would you consider interning with us? We’d love it – DM us!”
• Ahmed said he was taken to a room with five officers who interrogated him. When Ahmed asked to call his father, the police refused to let him. Instead they searched his things and pressured him to write a statement. Ahmed said he didn’t want to do so until his father arrived. They continued pressuring him until he was fighting back tears (please sue, Ahmed)
• James McLellan, a police spox, said soon after the detention that Ahmed “kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation.” (like what, exactly) In a statement Tuesday, Police Chief Larry Boyd said Ahmed “would only say it was a clock and was not forthcoming at that time about any other details.” (like it ticks??) Boyd didn’t apologize
• Ahmed builds his own radios and repairs go-karts. He built the clock in about 20 minutes. “He just wants to invent good things for mankind,” said his father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, “But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept 11th, I think my son got mistreated.”
• The town’s mayor, Beth Van Duyne, said the police “followed protocol.” Van Duyne is a hero among a fringe movement that believes Muslims are plotting to take over American culture and courts. She recently championed a law to prevent Muslims from supposedly imposing Islamic law. Ahmed has vowed never to take an invention to school again 🙁


• Jon Stewart visited Capitol Hill Wed to urge Congress to renew federal health benefits for first responders to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Flanked by firefighters on the Capitol lawn, he offered them a warning: “Today on the Hill, you will be exposed to possibly toxic levels of bullshit and arrogance. … Buckle your seat belts, and let’s get this done.”(TRNS, Hill)

Assad Says He Won’t Quit (BBC, AP, AP, me)

• Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview for Russian TV he won’t quit under foreign pressure, saying he leaves “if the people demand it.” The U.S., other Western powers and much of the Syrian opposition say it’s not conceivable for Assad to lead a post-war Syria. The comments come as Russia increases its presence in Syria
• Assad said Iran was supporting his govt “politically, economically and militarily” but denied that Iranian ground forces had been sent (sure). Assad was re-elected in 2014 with 88.7% of the vote, but the election only took place in govt-held areas. Assad said the refugee crisis was due to “terrorism” and urged Western countries to “stop supporting terrorists”
• Assad’s message isn’t new. What’s changed is the timing and circumstances. Assad and one of his main backers, Russia, are pointing to the refugee crisis and the rise of ISIS as proof that their stance has been correct. Moscow has increased its stance in the country just as the regime is losing ground to rebel groups
• Meanwhile, the Obama admin is weighing an offer from Russia to have military-to-military talks and meetings on the situation in Syria amid increasing U.S. concern about Russia’s military buildup there, SecState John Kerry said Wednesday. “It is vital to avoid misunderstandings, miscalculations,” he said
• And only four or five U.S.-trained Syrian fighters remain on the battlefield against ISIS, Gen Lloyd Austin, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, acknowledged before the Senate Armed Service Committee Wednesday. Senators dismissed the training program as a “total failure” and demanded a change in strategy (understatement – joke might be more accurate)
Pope Visit: Will Congress Behave Badly? (WaPo, me)
• The possibility of Congress truly, massively embarrassing itself – nooo is that possible? – and the entire country during Pope Francis’s historic address next week is starting to give some members the willies
• After all, this is His Holiness Pope Francis, whose official title is, among other things, “Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles,” as well as head of state of the Vatican and leader of more than 1 billion adherents worldwide
• Would anyone be boorish enough to say “you lie” if His Holiness mentions the environments or global warming – or if he reiterates doctrine on contraception? (hell yes) But even the tradition of bipartisan, goofy, wild cheering, clapping or of standing Os – or sitting boos – could be seen by many as way out of line
• Which got some pols freaked. So last week, four House members, Dan Lipinski (D-Ill), Juan Vargas (D-Calif), Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa) sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), asking them to put out some sort of “guidance…on the appropriate decorum, protocol and behavior…”

• Members could use info on “how to greet the Pope, proper attire [no jeans] (you need to be told lol?) … among other matters of etiquette,” the letter said. Boehner and Pelosi are said to be working on a “guidance card” to ensure “avoiding anything that could be construed as politicizing or making a spectacle of his visit.” One can only hope – – – and pray

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Victoria Jones

TRNS’ Justin Duckham, Ebony Romero, Anthony Herrera and Washington Desk contributed to this report


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