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December 21, 2018

Defense Secretary James Mattis' departure doesn't just sum up the major opposition to President Trump's withdrawal from Syria. It also represents a whole new "phase" in Trump's foreign policy, The Atlantic Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg says in an analysis published Friday.

After Trump declared ISIS defeated in Syria and moved to immediately withdraw from the country, Mattis submitted a resignation letter with no kind words for the president. Mattis was one of Trump's longest-standing senior officials in a tumultuous White House and had led the Pentagon through two distinct "phases" of Trump's foreign policy, Goldberg outlines in the paragraph below.

Mattis' departure also means that the United States is entering the third phase of Trump’s foreign policy. In the first year of his presidency, Trump paid attention mainly to domestic issues, and did not afflict America’s diplomatic and national-security establishment with an undue number of his ignorant and damaging foreign-policy views. In the second year, he became more destructively engaged, but he listened, on occasion, to those in his administration who possessed actual expertise in foreign policy. We are now entering the third year of his presidency, and third phase of his foreign policy: Trump alone, besieged, but believing, perhaps more than ever, in the inerrancy of his beliefs. [The Atlantic]

While former President Barack Obama dismissed Mattis as head of U.S. Central Command three years ago, he held on because he "understood ... Trump's intellectual, ideological, and characterological defects," Goldberg says. Without Mattis' guidance, "the dangerous part begins," he adds. Read Goldberg's insightful anaylsis in full at The Atlantic. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:07 p.m.

Hablas español? Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker do, and they put it to full use on Wednesday night, with O'Rourke even receiving a question from Telemundo anchor and debate moderator José Diaz-Balart in Spanish.

At least a few of Thursday night's crop of Democrats were watching and taking note — and, presumably, hastily downloading Duolingo.

One Thursday candidate likely wasn't sweating it, though: South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who speaks Spanish in addition to Norwegian, French, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, and Dari. Jeva Lange

9:53 p.m.

President Trump is not entertained.

As 2020 Democrats debated on Wednesday night, Trump, who had previously promised to live-tweet the debates, stayed uncharacteristically silent. That's apparently because, as he tweeted 35 minutes into the debates, it was "BORING!"

Trump's one-word tweet came as Democrats onstage discussed the stunning photo of a migrant father and daughter who died while crossing the Rio Grande. Beto O'Rourke, who broke into Spanish during the discussion, tweeted earlier that Trump is "responsible" for their deaths. The photo came as a visceral reminder of the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:53 p.m.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) made her stance on health care policy very clear during Wednesday's Democratic primary debate.

When the 10 candidates on stage in Miami were asked whether they would abolish private, for-profit health insurance for a government-run plan, only two raised their hands: Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

After Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) gave a brief defense for an incremental approach and retaining a public option, Warren expressed her support for a government-run plan. The senator, who has been surging in recent weeks, said health care is a human right and declared that she stands with her old friend Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in support of Medicare-for-All. Sanders' supporters in the past have questioned Warren's commitment to the idea. Tim O'Donnell

9:30 p.m.

Julián Castro has a simple pledge for closing the gender pay gap.

Castro, who served as Housing and Urban Development Secretary under former President Barack Obama, was asked at Wednesday's Democratic debate how he would address the gender pay gap. He immediately brought up how his single mother raised him and his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), and then pledged to "pass the Equal Rights Amendment, finally."

The Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution was proposed nearly a century ago. It passed the U.S. Senate in 1972 and has slowly made inroads in state legislatures, but has stalled ever since. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:29 p.m.

It took former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke exactly nine seconds to start speaking in Spanish at the Democratic debate on Wednesday night. After being asked if he would support a marginal tax rate of 70 percent on the highest earners making more than $10 million a year, O'Rourke answered instead: "This economy has got to work for everyone, and right now we know that it isn't, and it's going to take all of us coming together to make sure that it does."

He then switched to speaking Spanish, which bilingual viewers noted was a dodge as the former congressman didn't actually answer the question in either language:

Still, O'Rourke managed to impress some people with his bold decision:

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker — who also speaks Spanish — looked particularly impressed and surprised:

Several of the 2020 Democrats are multilingual. In addition to O'Rourke and Booker, Julián Castro and Pete Buttigieg have also given interviews in full or in part in Spanish, Politico reports. Jeva Lange

9:10 p.m.

So far, it seems, the Democratic primary candidates who are slated to take the debate stage on Thursday in Miami are perfectly content to allow their Wednesday counterparts their moment in the spotlight.

Former Vice President Joe Biden reportedly won't even be in Miami until Thursday, though he has been keeping busy — he's reportedly still in Wilmington cooped up in a hotel for "debate camp." The front-runner, NBC News reports, is in the midst of "marathon" practice sessions and will watch Wednesday's event from Delaware.

Despite the intensity of Biden's preparation, though, he and his team have downplayed Thursday's debate. "It's a little bit of an exaggeration calling it a debate," Biden told reporters earlier this month. "I mean there's not much time."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is already in Miami, where he's been greeted by some cheering crowds, but he's seemingly keeping his thoughts to himself.

Other notable candidates who have to wait until Thursday, like South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), are also reportedly in Miami already, but they too have kept a low profile on Wednesday. Tim O'Donnell

9:02 p.m.

2020 Democrats should take these political pros' advice with a grain of salt.

After all, Danny Diaz, Beth Hansen, Jeff Roe, and Terry Sullivan's candidates — Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), respectively — didn't do so well in the 2016 presidential elections. Still, they met up with Politico to share how Wednesday and Thursday nights' debaters can avoid a similar fate.

To start, Politico asked the former campaigners how they felt when their candidates went into the first 2016 debates. That quickly pivoted into their expectations for the Democratic debates, where Roe of Cruz's campaign said a candidate would "be smart" to "have a moment against [Joe] Biden." "If they want to bring him all the way down, they ought to," Roe continued, saying that wasn't Cruz's strategy in the first debate, and that could be why the senator almost didn't make the second.

When it came to discussing which Democrat would be facing the most pressure in the first debates, the Republican campaigners were generally in agreement. Sullivan, of Rubio's campaign, said it was Pete Buttigieg and Beto O'Rourke because "those two are the most a creation of the media" and "if they can't meet expectations, it's the end of them." Biden, meanwhile, could "crap the bed" and still make future debates, Sullivan continued.

Hansen, who ran Kasich's campaign, suggested Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) would see the most pressure because she's one of the "people who voters don't know a lot about." And Diaz, of Bush's campaign, similarly thinks it's "the people who are worried about making it through the summer and being on the stage in the fall."

Find all the GOP campaign runners' advice at Politico. Kathryn Krawczyk

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