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Thursday's Campaign Round-Up, 10.8.15

10/08/15 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* Hillary Clinton's decision to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, at least for now, is an announcement with broad political implications.
* It took a while, but Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign picked up its first congressional endorsement yesterday: Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) threw his support to the Vermont senator.
* In Ohio, a new Quinnipiac poll shows former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) with a narrow lead over incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R) in next year's Senate race, 46% to 43%.
* The same poll offered better news for Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R): his approval rating in his home state is up to an all-time high of 62%. He's the only sitting governor in the presidential race who's actually popular with his constituents.
* In Florida, the new Quinnipiac poll shows both of the Democrats running for the U.S. Senate -- Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson -- with early leads over the top GOP contenders.
* The results were better for Republicans in Pennsylvania, where Quinnipiac found incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R) with double-digit leads over his Democratic rivals.
* In New Hampshire, a Republican group called One Nation -- an offshoot of Karl Rove's Crossroads operation -- launched a $1.4 million ad campaign in support of Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s (R) re-election campaign.
U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin (R-Ky), speaks to a gathering at FreePAC Kentucky, Saturday, April 5, 2014, at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Ky.

Drug tests for Medicare recipients?

10/08/15 11:20AM

In recent years, a growing number of Republican officials, especially at the state level, have pushed drug-testing programs for Americans on "welfare." The idea is predicated on an unfortunate assumption: if you're struggling and need to rely on a safety net, the government should suspect you of drug addiction and check your bodily fluids.
The drug-testing programs have, in general, been a costly and pointless disaster. But in Kentucky, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Matt Bevin has expressed support for expanding drug testing to include senior citizens on Medicare.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reported yesterday on the latest debate between Bevin, who has never held public office, and state Attorney General Jack Conway (D).
...Conway asked Bevin about his statement from April that recipients of Medicaid and Medicare should be drug-tested.
In April, Bevin said during a Louisville Tea Party forum that he supports random drug testing for recipients of both programs. "I firmly believe we frankly should drug test people that are on Medicaid and Medicare," Bevin said at the time. "We just should."
During Tuesday night's debate, Bevin didn't back away from that call, saying "there should be expectation of you as somebody who is a recipient, or, as it's often referred to in this state, on the draw."
After the debate, Bevin said he was referring to Medicaid beneficiaries, suggesting the GOP candidate is more comfortable going after low-income families than seniors. I'll concede that I did not see the debate, but the Lexington Herald-Leader's article added that Conway "interrupted Bevin to make clear that he was asking about Medicare and not Medicaid."
Bevin responded, "Understood."
Incidentally, let's not overlook the fact that Bevin called for drug testing seniors at an event co-sponsored by the AARP.
A sign is pictured at the entrance to a Planned Parenthood building in N.Y. on Aug. 31, 2015. (Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

House GOP creates new anti-Planned Parenthood panel

10/08/15 10:40AM

To date, House Republicans have uncovered no evidence of actual wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood, but that doesn't mean they're done looking for proof to justify the conclusions they've already drawn.
The House has voted to create a special committee to investigate Planned Parenthood in the wake of GOP outcry about the group’s handling of tissue from aborted fetuses.
The vote was 242 to 184, with two Democrats voting in favor and one Republican voting against.
This is not a measure that will require Senate approval or President Obama's signature. On the contrary, the House GOP will now move forward with the plan to create a 13-member panel to scrutinize the health care organization, privately funded abortions, and the donation of fetal tissue to medical researchers.
Not surprisingly, congressional Democrats have a hunch this is yet another brazenly partisan, taxpayer-funded election exercise. "Here we go again," Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) told the Associated Press. "Planned Parenthood is the new Benghazi."
Before anyone on the right suggests Frankel is being unfair, let's not forget that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has already suggested he intends to turn Planned Parenthood into the next Benghazi.
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson bows his head in prayer before speaking at a town hall meeting, Oct. 2, 2015, in Ankeny, Iowa. (Photo by Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Carson runs into the 'learning curve' again

10/08/15 09:56AM

Not long after launching his bid for the nation's highest office, Ben Carson conceded he has limited knowledge about government and public policy. The Republican candidate, perhaps embarrassed by the scope of his ignorance, went so far as to acknowledge that the “learning curve of a candidate” can be daunting.
That was in March. Carson's "learning curve" problem isn't going away.
Most of the time, when the retired right-wing neurosurgeon makes headlines, it's because Carson has said something offensive -- about the victims of mass-shootings, religious minorities he doesn't like, “highfalutin scientists,” etc. But there's an entire other category of rhetorical missteps covering instances in which Carson has no idea what he's talking about in areas of public policy.
Yesterday, for example, the GOP candidate spoke with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal, who asked Carson about the looming crisis surrounding the debt ceiling -- an issue that's been in the news on several occasions over the last four years.
Ryssdal: As you know, Treasury Secretary Lew has come out in the last couple of days and said, "We're gonna run out of money, we're gonna run out of borrowing authority, on the fifth of November." Should the Congress then and the president not raise the debt limit? Should we default on our debt?
Carson: Let me put it this way: if I were the president, I would not sign an increased budget. Absolutely would not do it. They would have to find a place to cut.
Ryssdal: To be clear, it's increasing the debt limit, not the budget, but I want to make sure I understand you. You'd let the United States default rather than raise the debt limit.
Carson: No, I would provide the kind of leadership that says, "Get on the stick guys, and stop messing around, and cut where you need to cut, because we're not raising any spending limits, period."
Ryssdal, to his credit, kept trying to clarify what the federal debt limit is. Carson kept giving answers that could charitably be described as gibberish.
It seemed painfully clear that Ben Carson doesn't have the foggiest idea what the debt ceiling is -- and he didn't know how to fake his way through the interview.
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a community forum campaign event at Cornell College in Mt Vernon, Iowa, Oct. 7, 2015. (Photo by Scott Morgan/Reuters)

Latest Clinton email story fits a familiar pattern

10/08/15 09:16AM

Last week, a pattern began to emerge. Every time there's a new development in the saga surrounding Hillary Clinton’s email server management, the coverage follows a specific trajectory: (1) the public sees startling, provocative headlines that, at first blush, seem important; (2) pundits reflect on the degree to which the hard-to-identify “scandal” is lingering; (3) the new developments prove to be unimportant.
Rinse and repeat.
A week ago today, the coverage focused on the fact that Clinton received the same kind of spam the rest of us receive all the time. Why was this important? It wasn't, but news consumers were nevertheless confronted with over-dramatized headlines such as, “Emails: Russia-linked hackers tried to access Clinton server.”
Today, the pattern offers another example. The Associated Press' headline reads, "Clinton subject to hack attempts from China, Korea, Germany." Sounds serious, right?
Hillary Rodham Clinton's private email server, which stored some 55,000 pages of emails from her time as secretary of state, was the subject of attempted cyberattacks originating in China, South Korea and Germany after she left office in early 2013, according to a congressional document obtained by The Associated Press.
The AP's scoop, such as it is, apparently came by way of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), whom Republicans chose to chair the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
So, where's the part of the story in which we learn nothing particularly important happened?
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (L) speaks while flanked by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) during a news conference at GOP headquarters on Capitol Hill, July 22, 2015. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty)

McCarthy's odd demand: 'Stop playing politics'

10/08/15 08:35AM

Today is likely to be a pretty big day for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). He and his Republican colleagues will meet behind closed doors this afternoon, at which point the GOP leader expects to be nominated for Speaker of the House.
The process, however, is proving to be unexpectedly difficult. The right-wing House Freedom Caucus announced yesterday that its members are throwing their support behind Rep. Dan Webster (R-Fla.), one of McCarthy's lesser-known rivals. Even if that proves inconsequential, McCarthy will still have to wait until Oct. 29 -- three weeks from today -- before the House officially elects the new Speaker, giving his rivals and his critics 21 days to derail his promotion.
McCarthy's principal trouble is his accidental candor: he recently admitted that his party's Benghazi committee is a taxpayer-funded political operation intended to undermine Hillary Clinton. Everyone already knew that, but GOP officials aren't supposed to admit this truth out loud. McCarthy told an intra-party secret and he's been in trouble ever since.
The California Republican is still scrambling to clean up his mess, conceding yesterday that he "could have been more clear in my description of what was going forward." But National Journal noted that's not all McCarthy said.
“Let’s be very clear: Benghazi is not political,” Mc­Carthy said. “It was created for one purpose and one purpose only: to find the truth on behalf of the families of the four dead Americans. Period.”
“The integrity of [Committee Chairman Rep.] Trey Gowdy, the integrity of the work that has been done has never come into question, and it never should be. Stop playing politics,” he added.”
Let's take these one at a time.
John Kasich, governor of Ohio, gestures while arriving to announce he will seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination in Columbus, Ohio, on July 21, 2015. (Photo by Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg/Getty)

Kasich's clumsiness continues to be a problem

10/08/15 08:02AM

A few weeks ago, Ohio Gov. John Kasich took his Republican presidential campaign to Los Angeles, where he tried to praise Latino voters. It didn't go well -- the GOP governor clumsily conflated Latinos, service-industry workers, and his hotel room's maid.
This week, as the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, Kasich had a similar stumble, this time in Virginia.
A University of Richmond student says Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich demeaned her by joking about Taylor Swift tickets during a question-and-answer session at the school Monday.
Kayla Solsbak, 18, wrote an account of her experience for student news outlet The Collegian, saying Kasich responded "I'm sorry, I don't have any Taylor Swift concert tickets" when Solsbak raised her hand with a question.
American Bridge 21st Century, naturally, captured the moment on video. Kasich is seen dramatically waving his hand, telling the young woman, "I don't have any tickets for, you know, for Taylor Swift or anything or, you know, or Linkin Pa...  Go ahead. Yes. I know. You're just so excited. Yes."
According to the report from the college newspaper, the Republican presidential candidate told another young woman at the event, "I’m sure you get invited to all of the parties."
Kayla Solsbak, not surprisingly, didn't appreciate Kasich's attempt at humor: "What continues to strike me is the hypocrisy of his condescension. He touted his ambitious energy as an 18-year-old man, but as soon as I, an 18-year-old woman, exhibited ambition. I became the target of his joke."
For the record, her question was about undocumented immigrants, not Taylor Swift.

Cheney endorses McCarthy and other headlines

10/08/15 08:01AM

Dick Cheney to endorse Kevin McCarthy. (Politico)

TPP text to finally be made public. (The Daily Dot)

Rupert Murdoch says Ben Carson would be a "real black president." (AP)

Senate Democrats preparing legislative package to curb guns. (AP)

Oregon shooting hero leaves the hospital. (NBC News)

Scientists: dramatic worldwide coral-bleaching event now underway. (Washington Post)

Nobel Prize in Literature. (New York Times)

read more

Trump not fading, readies second offensive

Trump not fading, readies second campaign offensive

10/07/15 09:18PM

Robert Costa, national political reporter for The Washington Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about Donald Trump ramping up his campaign operation with the purchase of political ads, enlisting the help of his wife and daughter, expanding his campaign with the guidance of Koch-trained staffers. watch

Rachel Maddow to moderate candidates forum

Rachel Maddow to moderate Democratic candidates forum

10/07/15 09:05PM

Rachel Maddow announces that she has been selected to moderate the First in the South Candidates Forum with Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley, to be held in South Carolina on November 6th, co-sponsored by the Democratic Parties of 13 southern states. watch

Wednesday's Mini-Report, 10.7.15

10/07/15 05:30PM

Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Obama committed today to a full investigation: "President Obama called the Doctors Without Borders chief and the president of Afghanistan to apologize for the airstrike on a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday."
* Syria: "Russia and Syria unleashed a coordinated assault by land, air and sea on Wednesday, seeking to reverse recent gains by rebel groups that were beginning to encroach on President Bashar al-Assad’s last bastion of power."
* Moldova: "In the backwaters of Eastern Europe, authorities working with the FBI have interrupted four attempts in the past five years by gangs with suspected Russian connections that sought to sell radioactive material to Middle Eastern extremists, The Associated Press has learned."
* More on this tomorrow: "In a move that threatens to upend the Republican race to succeed outgoing House Speaker John A. Boehner, a group of hard-line conservatives said Wednesday it will throw its support behind a little known Florida member to become the next speaker."
* Not the response the White House was hoping for: "In her biggest break with the Obama White House thus far, Hillary Clinton came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty that the president views as a key legacy item."
* VW: "The head of Volkswagen’s American business knew about a potential emissions problem with the company’s vehicles in spring 2014, earlier than previously acknowledged by top management in the United States."
* Progress: "Less than 10 percent of the world's population will be living in extreme poverty by the end of 2015, the World Bank forecast on Sunday.... [T]hat's a stunning decline from the numbers reported over the last 25 years. According to the World Bank, 37.1 percent of the world's population lived in extreme poverty in 1990. In 2015, that number is estimated to drop to 9.6 percent."