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Tuesday, August 22, 2017
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Tuesday, August 22, 2017 10:22 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Donnelly, Sanders emphasize jobs

Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: They didn’t come out with specific matched policy points, but U.S. Sens. Joe Donnelly and Bernie Sanders sought to stoke up the Democratic base Monday with talk of jobs in Anderson, Muncie, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. Donnelly kicked off his reelection bid in Anderson and recounted his efforts in 2009 to save the domestic auto industry, noting that 5,000 Chrysler jobs in Kokomo transmission plants had dwindled to 100. “Am I willing to bet on Hoosier workers? Am I willing to bet on my friends at the UAW? Am I willing to bet we can make the best cars and the best production in the world?” Donnelly asked the packed audience at the Walter Reuther UAW Hall. “I’ll take that bet every single time and there are over 7,000 people working in those transmission plants just down the road.”

Sanders did a reprise of his 2016 primary election eve speech at Monument Circle Monday afternoon. He was competing with a solar eclipse and rain but attracted 2,000 supporters where he called for a $15 minimum wage and vowed to hold President Trump and Vice President Pence accountable for the hundreds of United Technology jobs that fled Huntington and Indianapolis and were shipped to Mexico.  "Donald Trump told the workers here in Indiana that none of their jobs would move to Mexico, not a single job," Sanders said of Trump and Pence’s appearance at Carrier last December. "Unfortunately, as the American people are becoming accustomed to, Donald Trump was lying." Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer notes that Sanders came back to Indiana, which has a 3.1% jobless rate.

2. The Democratic power disconnect continues

Sen. Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Indiana primary with 53% of the vote. Donnelly and the Hoosier Democratic establishment, including all super delegates backed Clinton. Sanders demonstrated he can pull a big crowd. But the UAW’s Danny Ernst confirmed that only a few members of the Indiana Democratic Central Committee are Sanders supporters. It’s a continuation of 2016 when Sanders and President Trump won the primaries with 53%, but neither had their party establishment on board. Trump would lasso in much of the Indiana GOP when he put Mike Pence on the ticket. Sanders did urge his supporters to back Sen. Donnelly’s reelection bid.

3. Campaign styling

Sen. Sanders has proven twice in the past 15 months that Monument Circle is Indiana’s best campaign rally backdrop. Its capacity to hold a large crowd (he drew 10,000 people last year) and provide a fascinating and historic backdrop and sight lines makes for a great rally. It’s surprising that Trump didn’t use it in 2016, given his obsession with all things phallic, with Victory sitting perched atop the monument. As for Sen. Donnelly, he is touring the state in an Indiana-built RV, the first pol to do so since Gov. Mitch Daniels used RV1 during the 2004 and 2008 campaigns. On the last RV1 journey to Milan in the waning days of his administration, Daniels told HPI he was surprised more politicians didn’t “steal the idea” given the state being in the heart of the RV belt. Now Donnelly has.
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    NASHVILLE, Ind. - We had been the Hoosier State. The Crossroads of America, heart of the corn belt and the center of the basketball universe. Three years ago, we became something sinister. It was “Indiana: The Methamphetamine State!” The statistics were appalling. According to the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, between 2013 and 2015 Indiana had dismantled 4,477 meth labs, and rescued 1,104 children living in meth lab environments. Over the corresponding time period, Indiana had seen a 32 percent increase in homicides, 26 percent increase in abuse and neglect reports to the Department of Child Services, a 90 percent increase in misdemeanor theft.  The collateral damage was appalling. In addition to the abused kids, first responders like cops, firefighters and code enforcers suffered chemical injuries in meth labs. Mayors were seeing dozens of homes and hotel rooms contaminated by the insidious chemical taint that comes with clandestine meth production. There was inertia at the Statehouse as governors and legislative leaders were slow to move, some fearing the wrath and political contributions from the home health consumer products industry. There were others, like prosecutors Dustin Houchin of Washington County, Mike Steiner of Martin County, Jeffrey Arnold in Delaware County and Vanderburgh County’s Nick Hermann, Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel, Kendallville Police Chief Rob Wiley and a several legislators - most notably State Rep. Ben Smaltz of Auburn, State Sen. Randy Head of Logansport and House Speaker Brian Bosma - who had had enough.

    WASHINGTON – Business leaders may be abandoning President Donald J. Trump in the wake of his reaction to last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Va., but the two leading candidates in the Indiana Republican Senate primary race are sticking with him. While CEOs exited White House advisory councils after Trump on Tuesday reaffirmed his stance that there “was blame on both sides” of a demonstration by white nationalists and a counter protest that led to one death and several injuries, Reps. Luke Messer, 6th CD, and Todd Rokita, 4th CD, avoided contradicting Trump. “Hate, bigotry and racism are un-American and unacceptable,” Messer said in an email statement. “I denounce these groups in the strongest terms. To me, much of the criticism surrounding the president was unfair. President Trump denounced the violence and racism displayed in Charlottesville, and I have denounced it, too.” Like Trump, Rokita cast a wide net of blame. “Rep. Rokita believes Americans need to come together to reject all hate groups that encourage domestic terrorism and violence,” Tim Edson, a Rokita campaign spokesman, wrote in an email.
    INDIANAPOLIS – Several years ago I was attending a meeting of Asia-Pacific community leaders in Melaka, Malaysia. People had gathered there from all over the region, including South Korea and Guam, but also Taiwan, and even Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Australia, Tahiti and a number of other countries. Together, we witnessed the reporting on the tsunami that hit Japan, including the terrifying images of coastal cities completely devastated, homes, personal property and loved ones sucked out to sea, never to be heard from again. And if that was not enough, the struggle of the nuclear meltdown of Fukushima, all while our friends and colleagues from Japan could only watch the reports with us, unable to communicate with family back home. The kinship that these people from all over the region felt for one another was palpable and as heartwarming as it could be under the circumstances and uncertainty. People understood that they all faced that common enemy, Mother Nature, and that she could wreak havoc any place, any time, and that many of these nations were particularly vulnerable. Today, there may be a run on Ambien in the Pacific Rim. This escalation of rhetoric and posturing regarding North Korean aggression is unprecedented, and our regional military exposure is more vulnerable than in the past 30 or more years. President Trump’s toughguy talk to Pyonyang sounds awfully similar to his colleague from the Philippines, President Dutarte, and what the Asia Times describes as his “shock and awe diplomacy.”
    SOUTH BEND – While today I defend Republican Congressman Luke Messer, it’s about one very misguided type of attack. So, don’t interpret it as favoring Messer over Todd Rokita, the other Republican congressman seeking the party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate. Either would be a formidable opponent for Sen. Joe Donnelly, the Democrat who seeks reelection in 2018. Neither would be another Richard Mourdock, the nutty Republican nominee Donnelly defeated to win a first term. A Mourdock type could slip between Messer and Rokita to win in the Republican primary, and there are far-out prospects seeking to do so. But chances are that Donnelly won’t be that fortunate a second time. Now, to defending Messer in one area where he has been attacked in an unfair, but potentially damaging, way. Messer is criticized for relocating his family – wife and three kids – to suburban Washington after election to Congress in 2012. Good for him. Good for his family. Good for Congress.
    MERRILLVILLE – Are Donald Trump and Mike Pence peas in a pod, or is the vice president ready to fly from the nest. Pence, who is one of the biggest defenders of the president, stayed true on Monday after critics ripped Trump for saying there was fault to be found on both sides of the Charlottesville, Va., demonstration last weekend. So defensive of Trump was Pence that he attacked the media, much like the president has done since taking office. “The media is more concerned in attacking Trump than criticizing the violence itself,” Pence said. Besides defending the president, Pence added that there “will be more unity in America” under Trump’s presidency. All that is fairly standard for Pence, who one day would like to be president. And if Pence is going to succeed Trump, he will need the president’s political base to do so. Perhaps that’s why we haven’t heard from Pence since Monday. Pence, even though he is traveling, hasn’t said a word about Trump’s Tuesday tirade about what happened in Virginia. 
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  • Sanders rallies for better pay, holds Trump 'accountable'

    INDIANAPOLIS - U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders returned to Indianapolis to rally for better paying jobs while holding President Trump and Vice President Pence accountable for the loss of hundreds of United Technology jobs in Indianapolis and Huntington. "Donald Trump told the workers here in Indiana that none of their jobs would move to Mexico, not a single job," Sanders said of Trump and Pence’s appearance at Carrier last December. "Unfortunately, as the American people are becoming accustomed to, Donald Trump was lying." The Socialist senator from Vermont who won the Indiana Democratic presidential primary in 2016 with 53% of the vote called for a $15 minimum wage, saying, “What Good Jobs Nation has reminded us is you can’t survive on a $7 minimum wage. You can’t make it on nine bucks an hour or 12 bucks an hour."
  • Donnelly kickoffs campaign citing auto rescue, opioid epidemic

    ANDERSON - U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly kicked off his reelection bid with a mix of “Hoosier common sense” along with a theme of “working together,” citing a local bridge project, trying to stem the tide of military suicides, the opioid epidemic, the 2009 auto rescue and even Obamacare. “Back during the toughest of times, I was a congressman right next door, over in Kokomo,” Donnelly said before a packed Walter Reuther UAW Hall. “We had transmission plants and we went from over 5,000 people to less than 100 that were working there at the time. They said it couldn’t be done. It probably wasn’t politically popular in other parts of the state. It’s never been about what’s popular and what’s not popular. It’s about the people who make lives better.”

  • HPI Interview: Messer kicks off with story on quitters

    MORRISTOWN – All good campaigns begin with the candidate’s story and U.S. Rep. Luke Messer dovetailed what happened in the U.S. Senate this summer with one of his personal upbringing. Speaking Saturday near Morristown, the 48-year-old Messer said, “It’s time for some straight talk. The United States Senate, just a couple weeks ago, quit on us. It is not OK to promise for seven years you will repeal Obamacare and replace it with it something better, and then just work on a few days, fail, shrug and walk away. My mother taught me I’m not allowed to quit and I will never quit on you.” Then came his story: He was raised in Greensburg by a single mom who worked at the Delta Faucet plant. At age eight, he joined the school football team and then came the first practice.
  • HPI Analysis: Trump impacts on U.S. Senate race
    MORRISTOWN – Some 800 people gathered on a bucolic, peaceful Indiana farm near here Saturday afternoon as U.S. Rep. Luke Messer officially kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign. Some 600 miles away, the scene couldn’t have been more different. Charlottesville, Va., was the scene of an alt right rally that lurched into violence with counter protesters, with a white supremacist from Ohio driving his car into a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. By late that afternoon, President Trump landed squarely into the controversy, blaming people “from both sides” for the violence.
     As Trump thrust himself into Hoosier politics in 2016, ultimately aligning with Gov. Mike Pence and their emphatic Election Day wave pulling Eric Holcomb and Todd Young into office, to think that a similar impact isn’t in store for the 2018 Senate race is to embrace naiviety. Trump’s Saturday statement was in contrast to four tweets by Messer and U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, who are now engaged in the second member v. member Republican Senate primary in the past two cycles. “We cannot allow hate and bitterness to prevail. #Charlottesville,” Messer said. “On a day where we enjoyed the love and friendship of so many in Morristown, it is hard to fathom the scene in #Charlottesville.”
  • Horse Race: Hall explores 2nd CD as Arnold won't run

    INDIANAPOLIS - With the decision of State Sen. Jim Arnold (D-LaPorte) not to seek the 2nd CD, reliable sources tell HPI say that another potentially contender has emerged who is “seriously considering” a run against Rep. Jackie Walorski,  former South Bend businessman Mel Hall. Hall is best known for having grown a small, upstart South Bend firm – Press Ganey – that surveyed patient and employee satisfaction at hospitals, into a national powerhouse that ultimately claimed half the 5,000 hospitals in the country as clients. In 2014, Hall (pictured)moved to Nashville Tennessee to serve as CEO of Specialty Care, a provider of various clinical services, with over 1,800 employees under his supervision.  The prospect of a Democratic expert on health care issues matching up against an ardent supporter of ACA repeal will likely excite Democrats who are hungry for a credible candidate to face Walorski.
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  • RTL's Bopp endorses Messer for Senate
    "I know a conservative fighter when I see one, and Luke Messer is that fighter. For decades, Luke and I have worked side by side in Indiana to advance the conservative cause. We need someone like Luke, with his proven record as a pro-life, pro-gun conservative, serving Indiana in the U.S. Senate. Luke would be an important partner with President Trump and Vice President Pence to preserve our constitutional republic." - Terre Haute attorney Jim Bopp endorsing U.S. Rep. Luke Messer for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination. Bopp is the long-time general counsel for the U.S. Right to Life and a former Republican national committeeman.
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  • Presidents Bush 41, 43 denounce racism
    Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush released a joint statement on Wednesday, denouncing racism, anti-Semitism and hatred after the events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms. As we pray for Charlottesville, we are reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city’s most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country.” The statement came a day after President Trump backtracked on a Monday statement where he denounced alt right groups, saying the there were “fine people” in the KKK, neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups. The Bush statement did not mention President Trump. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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