Trump exposes weaknesses in his candidacy and inside GOP: The Note

The third run was supposed to be different -- a more disciplined candidate with a streamlined operation, running again as an outsider and in a party united in its desire to win while also ready to sort through choices in the campaign ahead.

But the reality of former President Donald Trump's latest bid for the presidency is, so far, eerily familiar for Republicans. Less than two weeks after he became the first and only major candidate for 2024, GOP leaders are back to trying to explain away his actions or simply trying to ignore him again.

Trump's legal woes have compounded in multiple directions and jurisdictions. Attacks on the new Department of Justice special counsel are unlikely to outlast the investigations themselves -- or the gnawing reminders of what that work means for future elections.

Then there's Trump's choice of dinner guests. His shifting explanations and implausible claim not to realize he was hosting an avowed white nationalist who came to Mar-a-Lago along with Kanye West have brought a share of Republican repudiation -- but only a share.
Anticipation of a crowded presidential field won't morph into an actual primary campaign for some time. Until at least then, many voices in the party appear likely to remain hesitant to publicly disassociate themselves from a former president who remains a dominant political force among Republicans.

Trump has for years frustrated both advisers and adversaries by returning to his usual form, time and again. At this point, it says as much about the Republican Party as it does about Trump himself.
Projections in a final flurry of House races right before Thanksgiving leave just a single seat still to be determined out of the midterms -- and make clear just how narrow Republicans' House majority will be come January.

 News now projects that Republicans will control 221 seats in the next Congress, with a possibility that they gain a 222nd, pending the result in a California race where the GOP candidate leads by a few hundred votes. The final tally could be an exact mirror image of the 2020 results, where Democrats walked away with a 222-213 advantage.
This means Republicans can lose no more than three or four votes to pass legislation along party lines when they take control of the House. And it means Republican leader Kevin McCarthy can afford virtually no defections in his bid to become speaker, which requires a majority vote on the House floor on Jan. 3.

A smattering of far-right members -- including Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and Rep. Bob Good, R-Va. -- have said they will never vote for McCarthy, though hardline Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., is vocally on McCarthy's side.

Deals will be cut, including agreements for some members to potentially vote "present" or skip the vote for speaker altogether. One of the best things McCarthy has going for him at this point is that no other Republican has a realistic path to the speakership.

"The fact is, what's the alternative here?" Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who is in line to chair the Foreign Affairs Committee, told ABC's Martha Raddatz on "This Week."

Ohio Rep. Mike Turner, the likely next GOP chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, echoed that: "He's been the leader of our team. And he's going to stay the leader of our team."
Georgians are once again heading back to the polls, with early voting commencing statewide for Georgia's runoff election between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker.

Over the weekend, multiple counties opened up polling locations after a judge ruled Saturday voting was allowed to take place ahead of the Dec. 6 election. Warnock had sued to challenge the secretary of state's guidance that Saturday voting wasn't allowed to occur because it was two days after a holiday, Thanksgiving.

As voters flocked to the polls to take advantage of the extra voting days, some waited in line for hours. So far, more than 180,000 Georgians have voted in the runoff election, according to data from the secretary of state's website.

Warnock was one of those Georgians taking advantage of weekend voting, casting his ballot on Sunday alongside faith and community leaders after waiting in line for about an hour.
"What an honor to be able to vote for yourself, to have the people of your state to say, 'We'd like for you to represent us in high office. We trust you to look out for our families. We trust you to be thinking about our children, and about our grandmothers and grandfathers.' That's a high honor for anybody," he said after voting.

Though the runoff won't determine control of the Senate, both Republicans and Democrats have cautioned voters not to underestimate the consequences of December's election.

Democrats have emphasized a 51-seat majority would create an easier pathway to accomplishing their legislative priorities. In contrast, Republicans have highlighted how a power-sharing agreement across the aisle works to their advantage, pointing to the ways in which a split chamber has allowed them to block Democratic legislation.

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