Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) will have to drive his Dodge Grand Caravan a little faster if he wants to catch up to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
A Quinnipiac University poll published Thursday found that O'Rourke, who is challenging Cruz in the upcoming midterm elections, is still 9 points behind. Cruz has held his 54-45 percent lead, the same lead he held last month. Though O'Rourke hasn't gained any ground with likely voters overall, he has won over more women; 52 percent of women polled said they back him, while 62 percent of men support Cruz.
The campaign is "far from over, but Sen. Cruz would have to suffer a major collapse for him to lose," said Quinnipiac's assistant director Peter Brown. "That is even more unlikely since 97 percent of Cruz voters say they are sure they won't change their minds"
O'Rourke has run close behind Cruz for several months, posing just enough of a threat for Cruz's supporters to launch a new wave of sharp criticism against the congressman. O'Rourke's camp, for their part, have continued to push on Cruz's unpopularity in the Senate. The Democrat has gained something of a cult following, both from Texans who want to flip the seat and Democrats all over the country hoping for a blue wave. Despite his growing fandom, however, O'Rourke may be out of luck in the largely red state: 94 percent of Republicans say they are sticking with Cruz.
It all started with a blood drive at his church.
Richard Packman, 74, first donated blood in the early 1990s, and after being told by a phlebotomist he had "big veins," the Chicago resident made the switch to platelets. "It takes longer than a blood donation, but it's well worth it," he told The Chicago Tribune. "I really enjoy being a platelets donor because you really know you're saving lives." It takes about two hours to donate platelets, which are commonly used for cancer patients who lose platelets during chemotherapy treatment, but Packman said the time passes quickly, as he watches a movie or chats with staff.
Packman has spent an estimated 1,000 hours giving blood or platelets, and on Friday, made his 500th donation. A small celebration was held, with streamers and carrot cake, and Packman plans on continuing to donate beyond this milestone. "Just remember one thing: It's better to give than to receive," he said. Catherine Garcia
Trevor Noah is either 'horrified or impressed' that Saudi Arabia is market-testing its Khashoggi murder excuses
Saudi Arabia has for years been known as "the super conservative country where women can't drive, gay people get flogged, and thieves have their hands chopped off," Trevor Noah said on Tuesday's Daily Show. It was taking strides to shed that reputation under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, until journalist Jamal Khashoggi vanished while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
"So, a Washington Post journalist known for criticizing the Saudi government was seen entering the Saudi consulate, and then he was never, ever seen again," Noah recapped. "Now, I'm not a detective, but come on." The Saudi government has officially claimed Khashoggi left through the back door, but their security camera doesn't record images — an idea Noah found laughable. The Turkish government has another explanation. "Holy shit, 15 assassins, private planes, and a black van?" he asked. "This doesn't sound like real life, it sounds like the opening of a James Bond movie."
"So it's looking more and more like Saudi Arabia had Khashoggi killed, and this isn't just a big deal for Turkey and Saudi Arabia," Noah said. Khashoggi was a U.S. resident who wrote for The Washington Post, and the Saudis are U.S. allies, so this is an American problem, too. But President Trump, pressured to step in, has repeatedly accepted the Saudi leaders' denials, and he even introduced a random new suspect, "rogue killers," he noted. Since nobody's buying that, "Saudi Arabia is preparing to release their latest excuse," Khashoggi dying during an interrogation gone wrong.
"I don't know whether to be horrified or impressed," Noah said. "Because this is diabolical. The Saudi government is testing their excuse before officially using it." Michael Kosta explained why American should be "honored" that Saudi Arabia is testing its excuses because it shows "Saudi Arabia respects us enough to find a lie that works for both of us." Watch below. Peter Weber
The lieutenant governor of Alaska, Byron Mallott, resigned suddenly on Tuesday, and Gov. Bill Walker (I) said he stepped down due to "inappropriate comments" made two days ago.
"As leaders, we must hold ourselves to the highest standards of conduct," Walker said. The governor said he found out about the comments on Monday, and that they were directed at a woman who has asked that her identity remain anonymous. Mallott and Walker were close, running on a "unity ticket" in 2014; Walker, once a Republican, was elected as an independent, and Mallott is a Democrat.
Alaska Health and Social Services Commissioner Valerie Davidson has been sworn in as lieutenant governor, and she said she was "deeply saddened" by Mallott's resignation and "profoundly disappointed by his conduct," adding, "respect for women and the dignity of all Alaskans is our responsibility." Davidson will replace Mallott as Walker's running mate in an increasingly difficult re-election. Catherine Garcia
President Trump tweeted Tuesday night that the United States has sent a message to several Central American countries regarding immigration.
"We have today informed Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador that if they allow their citizens, or others, to journey through their borders and up to the United States, with the intention of entering our country illegally, all payments made to them will STOP (END)!" He didn't STOP (END) there, adding in a follow-up tweet, "Anybody entering the United States illegally will be arrested and detained, prior to being sent back to their country!"
There is a caravan of about 2,000 migrants headed to the United States from Honduras, and earlier in the day, Trump tweeted that if those people do not turn around and go back, "no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!" During the 2016 fiscal year, the U.S. gave Honduras $127.4 million in aid, the United States Agency for International Development says. Many people who migrate from Honduras are fleeing drug and gang violence and poverty, which would all likely grow exponentially if aid is cut off. Catherine Garcia
Using facial recognition software, public records, social media accounts, various databases, leaked documents, and more, The New York Times was able to confirm that at least nine suspects in the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi work for Saudi Arabia's security services, government ministries, or military.
Khashoggi vanished on Oct. 2, after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkey has said 15 Saudi agents flew into Istanbul that day on private jets, murdered Khashoggi inside the consulate within two hours of his arrival, then left the country.
The Times reports that one of the suspects is Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a diplomat assigned to Saudi Arabia's embassy in London in 2007. He's been seen getting off airplanes with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Paris and Madrid and spotted in several photos taken of the crown prince during a recent visit to the United States. It's possible he was serving as a bodyguard. Other suspects include two members of the royal guard, a member of the security team who travels with the crown prince, and autopsy expert Dr. Salah al-Tubaigny, the Times reports.
Tubaigny, who holds a senior position in the Saudi Interior Ministry, could only be directed to do something by a high-ranking Saudi authority, the Times notes. This strikes a blow to the suggestion that rogue agents murdered Khashoggi unbeknownst to the crown prince. Both the crown prince and his father, King Salman, have denied knowing where Khashoggi is, and said he left the consulate on his own. None of the suspects could be reached for comment. Catherine Garcia
If the Republicans lose the House in November's midterms, it's not President Trump's fault, Trump said Tuesday.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Trump said he will "handle it very well" if Democrats take over the House and launch new investigations or pursue impeachment. Trump has been hitting the campaign trail hard, he said, and doesn't believe "anybody has ever had this kind of impact." Democrats are polling well ahead of the midterms, and Trump said he did not agree that he's in a similar boat as former President Barack Obama, who in 2010 took some blame for his party getting "shellacked."
Trump also spoke about Michael Cohen, his former personal lawyer and fixer, accusing him of being a liar and "PR person who did small legal work," and defended calling adult film star Stormy Daniels "Horseface." AP asked him if he thought it was appropriate to comment on a woman's appearance, and Trump responded, "You can take it any way you want." He revealed that he should name U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley's replacement within the next two weeks, and blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions, still unhappy that his recusal from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. "I can fire him whenever I want to fire him," he said. Catherine Garcia
President Trump defended Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, telling The Associated Press it wasn't fair to condemn the country over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkey has said he was killed by Saudi agents inside the consulate, and on Tuesday, a senior Turkish official told AP "certain evidence" was found that proved Khashoggi was murdered there.
Trump tweeted earlier in the day that he spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who "totally denied any knowledge" of what happened to Khashoggi, and he told AP: "I think we have to find out what happened first. Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent. I don't like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I'm concerned." Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault by multiple women, and narrowly won confirmation to the Supreme Court. Catherine Garcia