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The Watch List 

You'll learn a lot by watching some key people who could make or break Trump's presidency

Cathy McMorris Rodgers

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Our own 5th District representative was left at the altar by Trump — unceremoniously dumped as Secretary of the Interior in favor of one of his sons' hunting buddies. That had to sting — and offer McMorris Rodgers an insight to what working with Trump will be like. The House will generally have more tolerance toward Trump's antics than the Senate, but if you start to detect that Rodgers is creating space between herself and Trump, it could be a sign of tough sledding ahead for the new president.











John McCain

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If Congress takes its role as a check and balance on the executive branch seriously, it will come from the Senate, where support for Trump has been notably tepid. Plenty of other GOP senators who have been belittled by Trump (Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio) could join in open revolt, but if things go south for the new president, watch for McCain to lead the internal opposition.












Bill O'Reilly

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Donald Trump has fully co-opted FOX News, with Sean Hannity name-checked by the candidate at a debate and Trump bullying victim Megyn Kelly fleeing for NBC. Even though he apparently just had a sexual harassment suit settled on his behalf, O'Reilly remains the big dog at FOX, and Trump simply cannot afford to lose his support. Watch to see if O'Reilly lays off the softballs and starts questioning the Trump presidency. That could mark the beginning of the end.








Dem-To-Be-Named-Later

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Look around the Democratic Party. Who will be the leader of the opposition for the Trump years? Can't name that person? That's because it's not clear who will emerge. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (pictured)? Too nice. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (above)? Too far left. Both will be important voices to be sure, but they can be too easily defined as Washington insiders. It could be someone new, with fresh, pithy arguments to draw the media's attention. Like a trade for a prospect in baseball, in two years there could be people in the starting rotation of Dem opposition we haven't even heard of yet. And if they don't develop new talent, the Democratic Party will struggle to take on the challenges ahead.

Barack Obama

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It's traditional for former presidents to fade into the background — building houses for charity like Jimmy Carter, giving six-figure speeches like Bill Clinton or painting Putin's portrait like George W. Bush. Nobody wants the last guy running around telling the new guy how it's done. But President Obama campaigned more than perhaps any outgoing president before him — and he leaves office with a 55 percent approval rating, while Trump limps into office with a 37 percent mark, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll. That's as unpopular as George W. Bush was as his second term imploded; Obama was at 68 percent when he took office. Watch whether Obama chimes in on policy; he would be a powerful critic, but he could also tarnish his own legacy. America might need him to stay only semi-retired — maybe like a president emeritus.




Angela Merkel

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While Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and Nigel Farage represent a new nationalist, xenophobic wave among developed nations, Angela Merkel remains among the last of the unabashedly liberal democrats. When Germany votes later this year, it will be a bellwether election. Will more nations follow America's new direction, or will the tide start to turn?










Mike Pence

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British online gambling markets are taking bets that Trump won't finish his first term. The odds are 3/2 that he will not. Add to that the fact that the 25th Amendment to the Constitution allows for a president to be removed by the consent of the vice president and a majority of his Cabinet — kind of like a quickie divorce. So watch how much leadership Pence takes on, how often his positions vary from those of his boss, and how often he is sought out by congressional leaders for answers. If for whatever reason the GOP's quarterback does get benched, Pence had better be ready.

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