Inside Politics forecast: Trump in India, Afghanistan peace deal, a test for AOC and other things to watch this week


1. Trump’s Indian adventure

“He will be welcomed with a rally in the world’s largest cricket stadium,” NPR White House reporter Tamara Keith said. “This trip doesn’t have a big trade deal to be announced, it doesn’t have a lot going on. What it has is very large crowds, and Prime Minister Modi is going to make sure President Trump sees those crowds.”

The two-day trip will also include a tour of the Taj Mahal and a state dinner in New Delhi. But it’s the crowd at the stadium he seems to be most focused on.

“President Trump has already been inflating the crowd size, saying there will be millions and millions,” Keith said. “The stadium only holds 100,000. But that’s still huge.”

2. Edging toward a peace deal in Afghanistan

While the President visits India, his foreign policy team will be watching Afghanistan, hoping a 7-day “reduction in violence” agreement with the Taliban holds. That could pave the way to a peace agreement with the US that brings the 18-year-war to an end.
“It’s really a significant step toward ending America’s longest war,” Associated Press Washington bureau chief Julie Pace said. “But this is going to be an anxious week. The US and Taliban agreed to … reduction in violence before they sign the agreement. So there’s a lot of concern that violence could erupt and derail progress here.”

But even if a peace deal is signed next weekend, that doesn’t mean an immediate withdrawal of American troops.

“There are big questions about how the US does end this war,” Pace said. “The Afghan government is in total disarray. So how fast do American troops that have been in this country for 18 years start to come home?”

3. The other billionaire in the race

Billionaire Tom Steyer spent more than $15 million on ads in Nevada, far more than any of his rivals.

But all it bought him was a sixth-place finish.

“A lot of Democratic strategists and campaign advisers were eying the bottom of the list of results,” CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip said. “The question for Democrats right now is what does money buy you … and how durable is that support? That’s a question not just for Steyer as we go into South Carolina, but also for Mike Bloomberg.”

One piece of good news for Steyer — he appears to have qualified for Tuesday night’s debate in South Carolina, after a poll out Sunday morning had him in third place there with 18%.

4. Reid and Romney make up

Former senator Harry Reid has spent the past three years of retirement at home in Nevada, where he’s fighting pancreatic cancer. And Washington Post senior congressional correspondent Paul Kane says Reid is reaching out to old enemies.

“I was in Las Vegas and went to visit Reid,” Kane said. “And I was stunned. I know politics make strange bedfellows, but he said he and Mitt Romney have kind of calmed things down.”

It was hard to find a bigger Romney critic than Reid back in 2012 — when Reid was the Senate Democratic leader and Romney was the Republican nominee for president.

“Reid was on the Senate floor almost every day accusing Romney of never paying taxes,” Kane said. “It was not true. And there were very hard feelings.”

But Reid told Kane that after that election, Reid — who, like Romney, is a Mormon — reached out to make peace.

“He says it was a good talk, and that Romney is a very nice man,” Kane said. And after watching his impeachment vote, Reid “sent a letter congratulating him.”

5. A test for AOC

And from CNN chief national correspondent John King:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is enjoying her rising liberal stardom: emerging as a top surrogate for 2020 Democratic frontrunner Bernie Sanders while also launching a new political action committee designed to promote like-minded congressional candidates.

But the freshman congresswoman’s high profile also means there are no shortage of critics, and some of those critics believe they may now have an opportunity to at least complicate her 2020.

That hope rests in a new primary challenge launched by Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a longtime CNBC anchor and contributor.

Caruso-Cabrera is the author of a book promoting the virtues of free-market economies and limited government, and is clearly not a fan of the Democratic socialism espoused by Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders.

It is an uphill primary fight, given the liberal leanings of the Bronx and Queens neighborhoods that make up New York’s 14th Congressional District. Plus Ocasio-Cortez is already proving her national progressive standing is an asset when it comes to fundraising.

But Ocasio-Cortez won the seat two years ago by knocking off a Democratic incumbent in the primary, and there is still some bad blood among establishment Democrats. The CNBC work gives Caruso-Cabrera high recognition with Wall Street donors who are not fans of the Ocasio-Cortez agenda.

One wild card to watch is whether organizations that are most often found supporting Republican candidates decide to take an active role in the primary. The Chamber of Commerce, for example, is among the GOP-leading organizations exploring whether to support Caruso-Cabrera.

Again, it is an uphill challenge and a smaller scale test of the criticism Sanders now faces from centrists on the presidential campaign trail. Caruso-Cabrera’s book, published a decade ago, seems an odd fit in today’s Democratic Party.

“You Know I’m Right: More Prosperity, Less Government,” is the book’s title. This, too, is an interesting wrinkle for a woman running in a Democratic primary: the forward is written by Larry Kudlow, then a CNBC colleague, but now the chief economic adviser to Trump.

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