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Another Kennedy eyeing the Senate could create a 'titanic match' in Massachusetts

Updated 3:33 AM ET, Mon August 26, 2019

Washington (CNN) - Here are the stories our panel of top political reporters have on their radar in this week's "Inside Politics" forecast.

1. Another Kennedy in the Senate?

Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III is ready to go where his grandfather and two great uncles have gone before: The US Senate.

The only problem -- incumbent Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Markey is running for reelection. And New York Times national political reporter Jonathan Martin reports that the 73-year-old Markey told him he won't step aside even if the 38-year-old Kennedy jumps in.

"That would create a titanic match between two well-known figures in that state," Martin said. "And increasingly, people think that as long as Kennedy keeps this door open, he probably is going to have to run, because pulling back will show weakness for a future race. And if you don't run now, the lines aren't going to be any shorter down the road in a state full of liberals."

2. Bernie Sanders' campaign schedule

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will campaign this week in Pennsylvania and Kentucky. The two states hold very late primaries next year, meaning they're less likely to have much of an impact on the outcome of the race. So why is he there?

"It really kind of shows a larger, broader primary strategy, which I think all the candidates, other than for the most part Vice President Joe Biden, kind of have to do," said Vice News Washington bureau chief Shawna Thomas, who thinks the Kentucky visit in particular presents an interesting opportunity.

"He is going, basically, to (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell's home town in Kentucky," Thomas said. "He gets to rail about that. So it should be interesting to see how those politics play out over the next few days."

3. Gun safety debate re-emerging

Meanwhile Congress returns from its summer break next week, with new gun laws at the top of the agenda.

CNN Congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly says there are lots of ideas, but not a lot of optimism.

"I've been talking to a lot of people who are involved in this who A, don't know where the President is going to land, and B, don't think anything substantive is going to happen," Mattingly said.

But the White House does plan to unveil its proposals next month.

"I'm told it will be a little more minimal than what the Democrats would want, probably a lot more minimal," Mattingly said. "(House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi had a conference call with her members on Friday, and said this is the most urgent issue for them. ... Anything could happen, and where it ends is an open question. But first the White House has to decide what they want."

4. Trump, Hong Kong & China

Hong Kong protesters squared off with city police armed with water cannons this weekend, making one of the most violent nights yet in three months of pro-democracy street demonstrations.

And though the White House has been slow to speak out about what's happening there, Wall Street Journal White House reporter Vivian Salama says the protests are intertwined with the US-China trade talks.

"It's going to be one of the defining moments for President Trump if he's gonna pull off this trade deal," Salama said.

"We see today, protesters are getting tear gas thrown at them by police. This is something that is really pressuring Beijing, and the more than they get closer to these deadlines with the US in terms of trade talks, are they gonna meet next week? Are they not gonna meet next week? These protests could have significant impact on that."

And then there's the question of whether Trump will ever lend his support to the protesters

"That could also be a really defining moment," Salama said. "Is he going to prioritize our economic interest, or is he going to play that traditional role the American president plays of ... promoting democratic ideals?"

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