Donald Trump and the chamber of 2020 rivals
Political Theater, Episode 54

When Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union, it will be in a House chamber filled with 2020 presidential rivals. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to both chambers of Congress on Feb. 5, he will not be the only star of the night. Several Democrats seeking to replace him — and there are many —  could end up stealing the limelight, says Nathan Gonzales, publisher of Inside Elections and Roll Call’s elections analyst.

3 Takeaways: Why Trump's media blackout likely won't last much longer
No public events on president's schedule for fifth consecutive day after stream of bad news

President Donald Trump, here leaving the White House in 2017, has not appeared in public since a Friday Rose Garden announcement that he would end a 35-day partial government shutdown. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | Where's POTUS? Donald Trump has gone dark — again. But past is typically prologue with this president, meaning his media blackout is unlikely to last much longer.

His public schedule, as released each day by the White House, has offered few clues. Missing are the usual short lists of meetings with lawmakers, conservative leaders and policy stakeholders, replaced by opaque phrases like “THE PRESIDENT has no public events scheduled” and “Closed Press.”

When shutdown politics add to economic woes, nobody wins
Both sides would be better off coming to the table and finishing the job

Federal workers and contractors, along with their unions, demonstrate against the partial government shutdown in the Hart Building on Jan. 23. The recent shutdown was just another blow to the nation’s economic psyche, already reeling from December’s stock market downturn, Winston writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — The Congressional Budget Office told us this week that the U.S. economy is likely to take a $3 billion hit from the partial government shutdown, assuming federal employees will get their back pay. $3 billion is a significant amount, but it is likely to have a relatively small impact in the context of a nearly $20 trillion economy. What the estimate doesn’t measure, of course, are specific personal impacts on people, families and small businesses.

The shutdown was just one more blow, if a minor one, to the nation’s economic psyche, which took a beating in December when the stock market took a downturn. Many Americans lost a significant portion of their savings, especially retirement savings. Put the two events together and we’re now beginning to see some erosion in people’s confidence in the economy, despite good growth and unemployment numbers overall.

3 takeaways: Trump’s SOTU stunner a win for ‘Nancy’ as polls signal danger
Poll: 7 in 10 Americans don’t think border wall is worth partial government shutdown

President Donald Trump argues about border security with then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, right, look on during a combative Dec. 11 Oval Office meeting. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

Senior White House officials insisted throughout the day on Wednesday that Donald Trump was poised to go with his State of the Union “Plan B.” But the president essentially called a retreat from the latest battle in his feud with Speaker Nancy Pelosi by being the first to swerve in a high-stakes game of chicken.

The president on Wednesday night announced he would delay his second State of the Union address until after the partial government shutdown ends, also saying in a tweet that he is no longer seeking an alternate venue to deliver the address on Tuesday night. It was another abrupt reversal for Trump, and one that came after he warned, just hours before, that he believed Pelosi wanted to cancel rather than postpone his big speech.

Capitol Ink | Special Relationship

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announces 2020 presidential run
New York Democrat announced the news on ‘Late Night with Stephen Colbert’

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has promised to stay away from corporate PAC money and has said it has a "corrosive effect" in politics. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has formed an exploratory committee to begin fundraising for a 2020 campaign for president.

The New York Democrat announced the news on “Late Night with Stephen Colbert” on Tuesday, and laid out her answer to the question every candidate is asked: Why do you want to run for president?

Kirsten Gillibrand laying tracks for 2020 presidential run
Hired former DCCC chief spokeswoman, planning NY campaign HQ and heading to Iowa

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York shows all the signs of someone who is about to announce a presidential run. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has begun laying most of the groundwork for a 2020 presidential campaign — virtually all she has left to do now is announce she’s jumping into the race.

The New York Democrat has recruited former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chief spokeswoman Meredith Kelly to head the communications staff for her prospective campaign and a handful of other seasoned Democratic operatives for senior staff positions, The New York Times reported Friday.

Reports: Kamala Harris to launch 2020 presidential run around MLK Day
California Democrat could put campaign headquarters in Baltimore

Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California is finalizing plans to announce a 2020 presidential run, multiple outlets have reported. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Pool file photo)

Sen. Kamala Harris is finalizing plans to announce her entry into the 2020 presidential race around Martin Luther King Day, multiple outlets reported late Wednesday night citing sources close to the California Democrat.

Harris would be the fourth person so far to join the race for the Democratic nomination, though that number is expected to balloon to dozens of candidates by the time campaign season kicks into full swing.

House Republicans came back from being written off before. They can again
Close 2018 midterm losses show a path for the GOP

The House Republican leadership team for the 116th Congress speaks to the media on Nov. 14, 2018. From left, Tom Emmer, R-Minn., Gary Palmer, R-Ala., Jason Smith, R-Mo., Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Steve Scalise, R-La., and Mark Walker, R-N.C. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Through much of 2018 and especially in the weeks following the midterm elections, many opinion writers and other political pundits enthusiastically declared the Republican Party dead or at least relegated to life support.

The commentary was eerily reminiscent of the post-2006 declarations that the GOP was finished … over … no longer a viable political party.

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing on Capitol Hill?
Bob Corker on ‘Widdle Bob,’ Jim Hagedorn gets hitched, and Dan Crenshaw on the media

Former FBI Director James Comey arrives on Capitol Hill for a meeting with Republican members of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

We’re all over Capitol Hill and its surrounding haunts looking for good stories. Some of the best are ones we come across while reporting the big stories.

There is life beyond legislating, and this is the place for it. We look, but we don’t find everything. We want to know what you see too.