The Note: Trump takes rhetoric back to lonely comfort zone

The TAKE with Rick Klein

“Here we go again,” President Donald Trump told the Associated Press, as he equated Saudi Arabia’s apparent complicity in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi with the allegations that surfaced against Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Indeed we do. It capped a day and a series of news cycles where Trump returned to some of the wildest off-the-cuff comments we’ve seen during his time as president. He also chose to tweet offensive nicknames at both an accuser and a potential rival — both of them women.

Stormy Daniels and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are pushing back, as they have every right to do. Khashoggi, of course, cannot do the same — though Trump’s inclination to believe the Saudis will draw its own pushback.

It means, again, that Trump is fighting on terrain that he — and maybe, ultimately, he alone — is comfortable occupying.

Trump doesn’t seem to pay a political price for excusing inexcusable behavior, or going to the gutter more generally. So far in his political career, there’s no one that can be said of other than Trump.

It all may mark just more noise 20 days out from the midterms. But it’s a campaign-season reminder that when Trump goes low … he can always go lower.

PHOTO: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives for the opening of the adult entertainment fair Venus, in Berlin, Oct. 11, 2018.Markus Schreiber/AP
Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives for the opening of the adult entertainment fair “Venus,” in Berlin, Oct. 11, 2018.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Election Day is actually more like “Election Month.”

As of today, the first day of early voting in Tennessee and North Carolina, voters can cast ballots in 20 states through early voting programs.

In four of those states, voters need to provide specific reasons for why they cannot vote on Election Day. In the rest, people can show up or mail in their ballots.

Yes, it is so confusing that states all have their own rules, and the disparity in rules in the different states are shocking.

Still, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, an independent, bipartisan, government group, 41 percent of all votes nationwide were cast before Election Day in 2016.

The total number of voters who have cast their ballots outside of an in-person voting booth on Election Day has more than doubled since 2004.

In 2016, more than 50 percent of voters cast early, by mail, or via absentee ballots in 16 states.

All of this early voting matters a whole lot and could change the impact of campaigning and ads on the final day.

The TIP with John Verhovek

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, whose decision to seek a sixth term rankled some in the Democratic Party urging generational change, will face off Wednesday against California state Sen. Kevin de León in the only debate of the unusual match-up.

It’s perhaps the most direct encounter this cycle in the much-hyped “progressive versus establishment” proxy war that played out in a number of races during this year’s Democratic primaries.

But de León has struggled to find traction, even in ultra-blue California, which often finds itself at the spearhead of the Trump resistance on issues like climate change and immigration.

He criticized Feinstein’s handling of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as “a failure of leadership,” and has repeatedly called into question her progressive credentials. Look for both of these topics to dominate Wednesday night in San Francisco.

PHOTO: Sen. Dianne Feinstein speaks with reporters after a news conference in the Capitol to discuss the findings of the FBIs supplemental background check on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Oct. 4, 2018.Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images
Sen. Dianne Feinstein speaks with reporters after a news conference in the Capitol to discuss the findings of the FBI’s supplemental background check on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Oct. 4, 2018.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. Wednesday morning’s episode features ABC News Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, who says President Trump continues to stand by the Saudi government’s denials regarding the disappearance of columnist Jamal Khashoggi. He also tells us about Trump’s longstanding financial relationship with the country. And, ABC News contributor Alex Castellanos explains why Republicans are experiencing a surge of optimism heading into the midterm elections. https://bit.ly/2Ohkpz8

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Trump awards retired Marine Sgt. Maj. John Canley, 80, the Medal of Honor at 4 p.m. at the White House. Canley will receive the award for actions during the 1968 Tet Offensive, when he reportedly braved enemy fire in order to save his fellow Marines and sailors, despite his own wounds. Despite his age, Canley still participates in physical training with the Marines.
  • The Public Policy Institute of California hosts a debate between Sen. Dianne Feinstein and her Democratic challenger Kevin de Leon at 3 p.m. EDT in San Francisco. The city’s public radio station KQED reports it’s been 18 years since Feinstein last debated a general election opponent.
  • In Iowa, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell face off in the second of three debates. The debate last week between the candidates centered on healthcare and the economy.
  • The Note has a new look! Download the ABC News app and select “The Note” as an item of interest to receive the day’s sharpest political analysis.

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

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