Here are the stories our panel of top political reporters will be watching for in the week ahead, in today’s “Inside Politics” forecast.
1. Beto O’Rourke’s campaign woes
The excitement that greeted Beto O’Rourke’s presidential candidacy is long gone. The former Texas congressman has been stuck in low single digits in most polls, and CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny reports he’s now running low on cash.
“On the eve of the fundraising deadline for all the candidates to report their money, he’s yet to report,” Zeleny said. “I’m told by a couple of top supporters familiar with his financial situation that it’s bleak. A few staffers have begun leaving El Paso, moving on to other things. … He has a lot of high-powered, high-paid staff members so there are discussions going on, I’m told, as to what the next step is. He’s committed to staying in, but it’s not the summer he envisioned.”
2. Rust Belt Democrats still haunted by 2016
We’re exactly one year out from the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. Wisconsin, of course, flipped from blue to red in 2016 for the first time since 1984. New York Times national political correspondent Lisa Lerer says Democrats there – and in Michigan and Pennsylvania – remain haunted.
“What is striking in talking to Democratic voters and officials in those states is how much the party is infected with a case of PTSD from that election,” Lerer said. And they still can’t decide why President Donald Trump won.
“You’ll hear that Hillary Clinton talked about President Trump too much or not enough. That it was white working class voters or an inability to energize the base,” Lerer said. “So how these questions are resolved … is really the lingering question that Democrats will face when they get to that convention next year.”
3. Trump’s rally plan
Trump is back on the campaign trail this week – he’ll hold a rally in North Carolina on Wednesday. And Wall Street Journal White House reporter Michael Bender will be watching for him to say something – anything – new.
“President Trump hasn’t really made news at one of these events for months, but his supporters keep packing them to the rafters regardless,” Bender said. “I would pay closer attention as we move into 2020 to how long his fans keep showing up to see the greatest hits than any hypothetical national head-to-head polls.”
4. Over the fiscal cliff?
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is warning Congress: the country is running out of money and could crash into the debt ceiling within weeks. But CNN Congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly said a deal to raise the ceiling isn’t looking close.