The Note: Trump offers help — and challenges — to GOP candidates

The TAKE with Rick Klein

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The midterm stage is set, but there’s a whole lot that’s not easy to direct – or predict.

With 99 days before Election Day, despite all the action and reaction of the Trump era, volatility remains across the electoral landscape.

The White House late last week offered up President Donald Trump to campaign for any GOP House member who wants him there. But it’s still not possible to devise a viable travel agenda.

Then there’s the policy agenda: Trump himself offered a fresh curveball with a new government shutdown threat. Trade war concerns continue to divide the GOP and jeopardize the Republicans’ biggest selling point.

Most Republicans would take Trump’s heavy involvement in campaigns over the alternative, but they sure wish they had a way to control his actions along the way.

UIG via Getty Images, FILE
Donald Trump speaks during a rally aboard the Battleship USS Iowa in Los Angeles, while wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat, Sept. 15, 2015.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Nine days until the Washington State primary, a Democratic voter at a candidate forum said his only concern was the party nominating someone who could beat the Republican in the race.

Whichever one of the three Democrats had the best odds would get his vote.

Washington’s 8th Congressional District, which straddles the Cascade Mountains, is competitive. It’s a purple district Hillary Clinton won but Democrats have never held in Congress.

The concern of the voter in the back of one small library spoke volumes to the anxieties of Democrats nationwide.

In that race, two female doctors argue something new and fresh is the way forward, whereas an attorney who has worked all over the district and in Washington, says a sure and familiar face is the best bet.

In Michigan’s gubernatorial race, voters face a similar question. Abdul El-Sayed, a young health care director, is hoping an exciting candidacy that energizes otherwise frustrated progressive voters could bring out the numbers to swing the state that Bernie Sanders won on the Democratic side before President Trump did in the general election two years ago. Others wonder if a more traditional candidate like former state Senator Gretchen Whitmer is a safer beat for defeating the Republican.

Everyone in the party seems to have a different opinion about how to win, only guesses that can’t be tested until November.

PHOTO: Charles Koch at the Freedom Partners Summit on Monday, August 3, 2015 in Dana Point, CA.Patrick T. Fallon/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Charles Koch at the Freedom Partners Summit on Monday, August 3, 2015 in Dana Point, CA.

The TIP with John Verhovek

Charles Koch, the 82-year-old head of the influential Koch political network, has a message for Republicans: we will hold you accountable if you stray from the principles and policies the group pushes.

At a rare on-the-record session with reporters at the network’s biannual confab of donors in Colorado Springs, Koch said that he regrets supporting some Republican candidates who reneged on their support for free trade and immigration reform, and they are “going to more directly deal with that and hold people responsible,” going forward.

Koch was also asked if he would be ok with Democrats taking back the U.S. House in 2018, to which he answered: “I don’t care what initials are in front or back of somebody’s name.”

Skeptics will say there’s not a real chance the group will oppose Republicans, but the group points to its digital ads it ran in June praising North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp after her vote in favor of Dodd-Frank reform as an example of its willingness to go on the record to speak positively about the other side.

Koch also blasted President Trump’s trade policies and talk of a trade war as “ridiculous,” and the group released a video Sunday decrying “protectionism” in America, a major theme of the donor meeting, which comes exactly 100 days out from the 2018 midterm election.

PHOTO: Senator Heidi Heitkamp gives a press conference at the U.S. Capitol, June 27, 2018, in Washington, D.C.Michael Brochstein/LightRocket via Getty Images
Senator Heidi Heitkamp gives a press conference at the U.S. Capitol, June 27, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • The President participates in an expanded bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of the Italian Republic at 12:45 p.m.
  • The President hosts a Joint Press Conference with the Prime Minister of the Italian Republic at 2:00 p.m.
  • The President participates in the swearing-in ceremony for the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs at 4:30 p.m.
  • QUOTE OF THE DAY

    ‘What I’m okay with are policies that will move us toward a society of mutual benefit, equal rights, where everybody has the ability to fulfill their potential.’ – Charles Koch, head of the Koch political networks, in response to being asked about Democrats having the potential the take back the House after the 2018 midterm election.

    THE PLAYLIST

    ABC News Podcast “Start Here.” The episode looks into what is in store just 100 days until the midterms, the latest on Les Moonves, TSA quiet skies, and current wildfires.

    NEED TO READ

    Trump says he would ‘shut down’ government over immigration but top GOP rep demurs. President Trump said he would be willing to shut down the government over immigration but a Republican representative leading his party’s election efforts to keep control of the House demurred. (Will Parsons) https://abcn.ws/2vg4cBs

    Koch network takes aim at ‘protectionism,’ slams Trump administration as ‘divisive’. Top officials for the influential Koch political network, which has pledged to spend as much as $400 million this midterm cycle, decried the Trump administration’s approach on trade policy this weekend at a biannual meeting of donors in Colorado Springs. (John Verhovek) https://abcn.ws/2mT1r52

    100 days out, Trump proves a destabilizing force over midterms. Just over three months from the first major election since his inauguration, President Donald Trump has proven to be a destabilizing and unpredictable force on the 2018 midterm landscape. (John Verhovek) https://abcn.ws/2AlBfdc

    18 for ’18: Midterm races that could reshape Washington and the country. This consequential midterm election could reshape Washington. https://abcn.ws/2mSgRqi

    The 7 key factors defining the 2018 midterms: ANALYSIS. It will be a nationwide referendum on the Trump presidency. But that will mean very different things depending on what part of the nation we’re talking about. (Rick Klein) https://abcn.ws/2K6p0AD

    In Senate showdown races, tough odds for Democrats fuel Republican hopes. Republicans’ best chance of keeping control of one chamber in Congress most likely lies in the Senate. https://abcn.ws/2K6xVGz

    Times publisher warned Trump his rhetoric against media is ‘divisive’ and ‘dangerous’. The publisher of the New York Times says he told President Trump during a meeting at the White House that his language toward the media is “not just divisive but increasingly dangerous.” (Meredith McGraw) https://abcn.ws/2mSuHcv

    Trump lawyer Giuliani ‘confused’ in claiming attorney-client privilege, Michael Cohen’s attorney says. President Donald Trump’s legal team is on the attack against former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, saying he violated attorney-client privilege by releasing a taped conversation of him and Trump about payments to a former Playboy model. (Mitchell Alva) https://abcn.ws/2NOW5TS

    Russians still trying to interfere in US elections every ‘way they can’: Republican senator. A Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Americans need “to be very aware that the Russians are trying to interfere in our election” any way they can “regardless of who the candidate is.” (Quinn Scanlan) https://abcn.ws/2LxFSWM

    Joint defense with Cohen over; experts hired to analyze Trump-Cohen tape: Giuliani. President Trump’s legal team warned his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, both publicly and privately, that he’s in violation of attorney-client privilege and has cautioned him against talking, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani told ABC News. (Tara Palmeri) https://abcn.ws/2NPMPiE

    Rep. John Lewis, champion of civil rights movement, hospitalized; ‘No cause for alarm,’ official says. Rep. John Lewis, a champion of the civil rights movement and congressman for 31 years, has been hospitalized after falling ill on a plane. (Mark Osborne) https://abcn.ws/2mRAXRM

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.