Oct 11, 2018, 6:03 AM ET

The Note: Melania Trump speaks out, as anger animates midterms


The TAKE with Rick Klein

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There’s anger out there — aimed outside, and also within.

First Lady Melania Trump’s revealing interview with ABC’s Tom Llamas includes an intriguing and potentially powerful assertion: that President Donald Trump’s White House continues to employ individuals who cannot be trusted.

“You always need to watch your back,” she said.

The president has positioned himself against voices inside his administration quite prominently in the past. It’s revving up the Trump army before the midterms, with the first lady now lending her voice to an extent.

Anger – both real and exaggerated — grows as the election approaches. Former Attorney General Eric Holder said this week that the motto of the “new Democratic Party” should be “when they go low, we kick them,” on the heels of Hillary Clinton saying that after Democrats take over Congress, “civility can start again.”

It’s rich for lectures on civility to come from those associated with the Trump White House, of course.

But anger, in many different forms, has a strong allure these days — as the stakes of the election grow.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Democrats and (literally) millions of voters have been asking for an honest conversation on health care insurance markets and the possibility of a Medicare-for-All, single-payer system. The president's op-ed Wednesday was not that.

Yes, Democrats backing a Medicare-for-All plan are calling for huge changes in the country's health care system. But they don’t advocate abolishing Medicare benefits for seniors or outlawingprivate insurance plans. That's just false.

Plus, most Democratic candidates actually talk about a series of steps and a long — very long — term transition to help move the country toward universal coverage models.

What's telling though about the president's op-ed (as well the way Republican candidates are racing to say they support protecting people with pre-existing conditions) is that their party is playing defense here while Democrats are pushing ahead with their messaging on health care.

The GOP talks a good game about protections, but just Wednesday, Senate Republicans voted to let the Trump administration sell short-term plans, many of which do not cover basic care, including hospitalizations and maternity care, and which allow insurance companies to use discriminatory pricing or refuse coverage altogether to people who have had certain previous diagnoses.

Democrats on the trail point to Republican plans over and over and say: "We know health care isn't working right now, but, see what they're proposing? You just can't trust those guys."

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn before leaving the White House in Washington, Oct. 9, 2018.Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn before leaving the White House in Washington, Oct. 9, 2018.

The TIP with Alexander Mallin

With less than four weeks until the midterm elections and the stakes for his presidency reaching a fever pitch, President Trump is growing more aggressive in his efforts to paint his Democratic opposition not just as a political threat to America’s future, but as a mob of radicalized extremists.

Most recently, Trump described demonstrators protesting Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court as paid instruments of billionaire George Soros, motivated by a paycheck rather than genuine concern for the country.

  • Describing the opposition to Kavanaugh during a speech to police chiefs Monday, Trump said, “It was a disgraceful situation brought about by people that are evil.”
  • In a rally in Topeka over the weekend, he described Democrats as “crazy” and “loco.” “The radical Democrats have turned into an angry mob,” he argued. “The Democrats have become too extreme and too dangerous to govern.”
  • And in Tennessee, Trump recently argued that the choice before voters is “a choice between a Republican Party that is building our future and a Democrat Party that is trying to burn our future down.”
  • Both the Republican National Committee and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway have recently sought to seize on a new Hillary Clinton interview in which she said, “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about,” with Conway saying Wednesday, “it's one thing to disagree, but you oughta disagree civilly.”

    When ABC News asked Conway whether the president has been civil in his own remarks, she answered that “evil is a perfectly fine word,” but was specifically referring to people who had threatened Kavanaugh’s wife and children, a distinction the president hasn’t made.

    PHOTO: Brett Kavanaugh (L) is sworn-in as Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court by retired Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy at the White House, Oct. 8, 2018.Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
    Brett Kavanaugh (L) is sworn-in as Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court by retired Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy at the White House, Oct. 8, 2018.


    ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Thursday morning’s episode features ABC News Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks, who explains why health care will be such a big talking point in the upcoming midterm elections. Then, ABC News’s Conor Finnegan brings us the latest in the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. https://bit.ly/2Ohkpz8


  • The president will have lunch with rapper Kanye West at the White House Thursday. West will also meet with White House adviser Jared Kushner. We’re told they'll discuss prison reform, one of Kushner's projects and something reality star Kim Kardashian West also got involved in earlier this year when she urged the president to grant clemency to Alice Johnson, a mother serving a lifetime sentence in jail for a non-violent drug charge. Other topics on the agenda: product manufacturing in America, gang violence and troubles in Chicago, West’s hometown.
  • Vice President Mike Pence is on the trail Thursday as well. Pence visits it a Delta Air Lines facility in Atlanta and then headlines a fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp. Kemp faces Democrat Stacey Abrams, who had Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on the trail with her Tuesday.
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    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights political analysis of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

    News - The Note: Melania Trump speaks out, as anger animates midterms

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    • Citizenatlarge1

      This is a term that describes the way people should treat one another in order to arrive at a peaceful and civilized outcome. It is most important when people disagree on issues. It is the logical tool necessary for a society to progress and maintain cohesion toward arriving at shared common interests. In a society where points of view are as different as there are stars in the sky, it is civility which allows us to function and keeps us from descending into chaos and anarchy. Compromise is the vehicle that moves us forward from a disagreement. Impasse is the failure of one or both parties willing to negotiate to achieve a peaceful resolution. Violence is the complete breakdown of a civilized outcome to disagreements. Inciting violence for political reasons is the death of a civilized society.

    • John S. Henchey

      She is just as paranoid as her Hubby...."You have to watch your back".

    • Ctrygrl

      The GOP is lying about democrats and their views on healthcare all across the country, and the president in his so called op ed and his rah rah rallies is leading the way in the lying. Democrats do not want to go "negative" by calling out the GOP for the liars they are. The republicans have done their best to destroy Obamacare, their actions have caused premiums to go through the roof and many to lose coverage and now they are going after pre existing condition coverage with this cheap junk insurance. The GOP has a lot of money to keep repeating these lies across the country and the president has a huge megaphone for the lies on FOX.

    • Jake real Jake

      D i v o r c e Melania, per Tammy Wynette (or stand by your Orange Bully)!

    • Dana Leigh

      'animates,' that's an interesting term. and am unsure how to 'interpret' that.