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How Dems plan to counter GOP's message during RNC convention

'Inside Politics' forecast: Clinton's counter-convention
'Inside Politics' forecast: Clinton's counter-convention

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'Inside Politics' forecast: Clinton's counter-convention 03:21

Story highlights

  • Republicans who want to stay away from Trump aren't staying away from convention
  • Groups that don't much care for Trump are trying to defend GOP's House and Senate majorities

Cleveland (CNN)A question about whether the GOP ticket is ready for what comes after Cleveland, the candidates' competing views on media relations, and Indiana intrigue that has nothing to do with Donald Trump's new No. 2: It's all a part of the "Inside Politics" forecast.

1) Democrats plan to counter Trump's Cleveland message

It is now a convention staple: The opposing party sends in a team to give its take -- or spin -- on the other guy's big event. In Cleveland, that means the Clinton campaign will be looking to get some attention during Donald Trump's four-day coronation.
Clinton's counter-convention programming
Clinton's counter-convention programming

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Clinton's counter-convention programming 00:38
Jonathan Martin of The New York Times shared reporting on the players, and themes, that the Democrats are hoping will get them into the media mix this week.
"They'll be running with the theme of better than this, and they're going to have a host of surrogates including Al Franken, the funny man-turned-senator. Poking fun at Republicans and serious, too, they're going to launch a big effort this week to register voters. The goal being 3 million new voters this week and hoping to use what folks are seeing on stage to fire up liberal voters back home."

2) Avoiding Trump doesn't necessarily mean avoiding Cleveland

There is a long list of Republican luminaries and candidates who are anywhere but Cleveland this week because they view Trump as toxic and a drag on the GOP brand.
But some Trump critics are coming to the convention city -- not to make peace with the candidate but in search of the millions they say they need to help down-ballot Republicans through this unpredictable climate.
Many of the party's biggest donors and fund-raisers will be in Cleveland, and Trump and the national GOP will hardly be the only entities asking them to pony up.
Sheldon Adelson is going to be here, for example, and getting time with the Nevada casino giant and GOP mega-donor is a top priority for Republican and GOP-friendly groups that don't much care for Trump but are trying to defend the party's House and Senate majorities.

3) After Cleveland comes the ground game -- but is Team Trump ready?

The conventions are a critical chapter in every presidential campaign -- the official turning of the page from primary season to the general election.
Trump's ground game scramble
Trump's ground game scramble

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Trump's ground game scramble 00:26
And when they are over, it will be a 100-day dash to Election Day.
The debates are to come. The TV ads will intensify. And the yard signs and door hangers will pop up -- in many cases brought to your door by a campaign volunteer out canvassing.
It is a time-honored and tested tradition, but CNN's Maeve Reston said there are questions about whether Team Trump is ready for this next chapter.
"Right now we know the Republican National Committee has been carrying an incredibly heavy load when it comes to voter turnout and voter contact, and the Trump team is trying to ramp up. They have some volunteers out there that don't even have literature when they are knocking on doors. So I think that's what we'll all be focused on coming out of the convention: Can they pull that together?"

4) On media relations, some space between Trump and new partner Pence

At first glance, you might think Donald Trump and Mike Pence see eye to eye when it comes to media relations.
Trump routinely criticizes the media at his rallies, and his campaign denies credentials to reporters and organizations it considers hostile. Pence is known to complain about what he sees as a liberal bias, and while serving as Indiana governor, he has toyed with the idea of creating a state-run "news service."
But Jackie Kucinich of The Daily Beast said a dig into Pence's history shows his support for reporters who face pressure to reveal confidential sources.
"Where Donald Trump has argued for rolling back libel laws to make it easier to sue (media), Mike Pence, as recently as 2013 and throughout his career in Congress, advocated for a federal media shield law that would prevent reporters from being prosecuted if they refused to reveal confidential sources. We doubt that Pence will get Trump to completely warm to us, but maybe he'll get a little bit closer."

5) Indiana has 2016 drama — and it is hardly limited to Pence

What a week for Indiana politics: Pence was tapped as Trump's running mate so he abandoned plans to run for re-election at the last minute, upending the race for governor.
Indiana's key role in 2016
Indiana's key role in 2016

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Indiana's key role in 2016 00:53
And there's more: Former Sen. Evan Bayh announced his return to politics, deciding to run for Senate after a six-year hiatus.
For much of the year, Bayh had brushed aside talk he might try to make a comeback, but his decision thrilled national Democrats who now see even better odds of capturing a Senate majority.
But CNN's Manu Raju said Bayh kept folks guessing for a long time, and that higher ambition was at least a factor in his waiting game.
"He has a lot of baggage and Republicans are revving up a pretty aggressive attack line against him. He spent a lot of time in Washington with corporate interests since he left his job as the United States senator. Also, his sheer ambition (is something) they're going to go after. He had eyed the Governor's Mansion. He also, I'm told from Democrats who are monitoring his decision, he seemed to be angling or at least gauging whether he'd be picked as Hillary Clinton's running mate."