Nicolle Wallace, Republican strategist, talks about the low expectations Donald Trump had for his own chances of winning the Republican nomination when his campaign first began, and how he was motivated by his loss in Wisconsin. watch
Rachel Maddow and an MSNBC panel react to Ted Cruz suspending his campaign for president and what it means for the Republican Party that Donald Trump now apparently has an unobstructed path to the Republican nomination. watch
Will Republican leaders rally around Trump if he is the party's nominee? And how might a Trump nomination affect local and state races? Steve Schmidt talks to Chris Matthews about what could happen leading up to November. watch
Jeff Weaver, campaign manager for the Bernie Sanders campaign, talks with Rachel Maddow about the tight race in Indiana and the Sanders campaign's criticism of how the Clinton campaign works with the DNC to raise money. watch
Chuck Todd, NBC News political director, talks with an MSNBC panel about Donald Trump's apparently inclination to indulge conspiracy theories, including today's National Enquirer report about Ted Cruz's father and Lee Harvey Oswald, and whether that interest could cost him politically. watch
Something about this year's presidential race makes me wish I had a degree in US history. Current reading: https://t.co/SkzlPOTehM
* Iraq: "An American serviceman died in an ISIS attack in northern Iraq, U.S. officials said Tuesday. Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said the U.S. serviceman was advising and assisting Kurdish Peshmerga forces north of Mosul when ISIS fighters attacked."
* New York: "Sheldon Silver, who rose from the Lower East Side of Manhattan to become one of the state's most powerful and feared politicians as speaker of the New York Assembly, was sentenced on Tuesday to 12 years in prison in a case that came to symbolize Albany's culture of graft."
* Turkey: "Members of Turkey's governing AK party and pro-Kurdish politicians have traded blows in parliament over plans to strip MPs of their immunity from prosecution. The brawl erupted as a committee met to discuss the government-backed changes to the constitution. Some parliamentarians launched themselves into the melee from a table, others threw water or aimed punches."
* It'd be a good thing if Congress were able to govern responsibly: "Hours before Puerto Rico missed hundreds of millions of dollars of bond payments, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Monday issued a new and urgent call for Congress to pass legislation allowing the territory to restructure the $72 billion it owes to creditors."
* Climate crisis: "As India, the world's second-most populous country, reels from an intense drought, the World Bank has released a new report finding that perhaps the most severe impact of a changing climate could be the effect on water supplies."
* Alabama: "The Oxford City Council has scheduled a special meeting Wednesday 'to discuss potentially recalling' an ordinance making it a crime to use a public restroom different from the gender on a person's birth certificate."
* What could possibly go wrong? "Full-time employees at Tennessee's public colleges and universities can now carry handguns on campus under a bill that became law Monday, although without the governor's signature."
With a week remaining before West Virginia's Democratic presidential primary, it wasn't too surprising to see Hillary Clinton make an appearance in the state over the weekend. Similarly, it didn't come as a shock to see Donald Trump supporters and coal-industry workers hold a protest outside of Clinton's visit at the Williamson Wellness and Health Clinic in Mingo County.
What was surprising, however, was one of the people who joined the protest. The Charleston Gazette-Mailreported:
More than 100 protesters stood in the pouring rain on the corner of Second Avenue and Pike Street, holding umbrellas over their Donald Trump signs, chanting about coal and booing Clinton. Even former Massey Energy Co. CEO Don Blankenship, a Mingo County resident who has been sentenced to a year in prison for conspiring to violate mine safety laws, made an appearance in the crowd.
Blankenship was a dominant player in West Virginia politics for years, donating millions of dollars to Republican causes and politicians. His former political aides and operatives continue to play an outsize role in state Republican politics.
Approached by a Gazette-Mail reporter for an interview, Blankenship responded, "Are you joking?"
As a general rule, presidential candidates don't enjoy being confronted with angry protestors, and I can imagine Clinton was uncomfortable at times facing the crowd's jeers and insults.
But Blankenship's role arguably makes this one of those rare instances in which a candidate is actually delighted to see a critic. After all, if there's one person in West Virginia whose hatred a Democratic presidential hopeful would welcome, it's Don Blankenship.
It might be easier to believe Ted Cruz's latest condemnations of Donald Trump if Cruz hadn't spent months saying the exact opposite.
Ted Cruz went on a blistering ramble against Donald Trump on Tuesday, delivering a list of stinging personal attacks that included calling the GOP front-runner a "serial philanderer," "pathological liar" and a "narcissist." [...]
"This man is a pathological liar. He doesn't know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth," Cruz told reporters in Evansville, Indiana.
To the extent that facts still matter, Cruz's criticisms are rooted in fact. The senator is obviously feeling desperate, and working from the assumption that a furious tirade late in the process might help his floundering candidacy, but that doesn't mean his attacks are incorrect.
The problem, rather, is what Cruz used to say about Trump.
Donald Trump may be lacking in a great number of qualities, but when it comes to self-confidence, his cup runneth over. Naturally, this extends to the Republican presidential frontrunner's campaign, which he assumes will be a great success.
The Washington Post's Greg Sargent noted this morning that Trump told an Indiana audience yesterday that defeating Hillary Clinton in a general election will hardly pose any challenge at all. "Folks, I haven't even started yet," the GOP candidate said. "Now I'm going to start focusing on Hillary. It's going to be so easy."
Trump isn't the only Republican who's exceedingly, albeit bafflingly, optimistic about a future Trump White House. During an online chat yesterday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), rumored to be eyeing his party's vice presidential nomination, insisted that "all 50 states could be in play" with Trump at the top of the Republican ticket this fall.
He did not appear to be kidding. As Gingrich sees it, literally every state -- no matter how "blue," no matter how diverse, no matter how consistently it's supported Democrats in the recent past -- will be competitive thanks entirely to Trump's broad national appeal.
What's more, the Washington Examiner's Byron York reported last week he's had "private conversations with several stalwart Republicans," including a former top party official, former members of Congress, and two former managers of GOP presidential campaigns, and he was struck by some of their hopefulness about November.
They know that dozens of polls have shown Clinton trouncing Trump, often by double digits. But they were struck by a recent George Washington University Battleground Poll that showed Clinton winning by just 3 points. It's just one poll, but for some it confirmed the idea that there might be a different dynamic at work in the race once Trump becomes the nominee and the contest is simply Donald vs. Hillary. The fight will become more even.
"Trump does bring a little magic to this in that he could shuffle the traditional battleground map," one former presidential campaign manager told me. "I haven't seen any data on that, but I'm just getting a feeling that he's going to put a couple of Midwestern states in play."
York added that GOP insiders may be "deluding themselves," but some influential Republicans are nevertheless "beginning to question the assumption that Trump is guaranteed to lose big."
Perhaps it's best not to brush past the "deluding themselves" observation too quickly.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* On the heels of Donald Trump complaining about the "woman's card," Hillary Clinton reportedly raised $2.4 million, her biggest short-term fundraising boost of the campaign thus far.
* Trump may be the Republican frontrunner, but as the AP discovered, he's "collected little information about tens of millions of voters he needs to turn out in the fall. He's sent few people to battleground states compared with likely Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, accumulated little if any research on her, and taken no steps to build a network capable of raising the roughly $1 billion needed to run a modern-day general election campaign."
* In Wisconsin, Freedom Partners Action Fund, financed in part by the Koch brothers, have launched $2 million in attack ads targeting former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) in his race against incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R), a favorite of far-right donors.
* Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) has said he's considering a U.S. Senate campaign against incumbent Sen. Angus King (I) in 2018, and many progressive activists, hoping for a "Hindenberg-level disaster," are encouraging the governor to do exactly that.
* In a bit of a surprise, Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.), who is retiring at the end of this Congress, announced yesterday that he will not run for governor in New York in 2018.
* There's no clear frontrunner in next year's gubernatorial race in Virginia, but former state A.G. Ken Cuccinelli (R), who failed in his 2013 statewide bid, announced that he isn't going to try again in 2017.
Last week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) decided to pick a curious fight with California. In retrospect, he probably should have thought this through a little better.
To briefly recap, the Republican governor announced that he was on his way to the Golden State, where he'd try to convince business leaders to relocate. As part of the pitch, Scott, relying on his economic development organization, launched radio ads touting Florida's lower minimum wage, non-existent state income tax, and weaker regulations.
The response from California Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) press secretary was pretty compelling in its own right, but the governor himself took some time to reply to Rick Scott directly yesterday. The L.A. Timesreported:
Brown's letter to Gov. Rick Scott was billed as a plea for the Florida Republican to get engaged on the issue of climate change. But he also made it clear that he sees nothing wrong with California's economic health these days.
"Rick," Brown wrote, "a fact you'd like to ignore: California is the 7th largest economic power in the world. We're competing with nations like Brazil and France, not states like Florida."
As it turns out, Brown didn't just send correspondence to his cross-country critic. The Californian also sent a report from a non-partisan climate initiative: "Come Heat and High Water: Climate Risk in the Southeastern U.S. and Texas."
As Brown seemed eager to note, the report said, "Florida faces more risk than any other state that private, insurable property could be inundated by high tide, storm surge and sea level rise. By 2030 up to $69 billion in coastal property will likely be at risk of inundation at high tide that is not at risk today. By 2050, the value of property below local high tide levels will increase to up to about $152 billion."
The Democratic governor concluded, "So while you're enjoying a stroll on one of California's beautiful beaches this week, don't stick your head in the sand. Take a few minutes to read the rest of this report. There's no time to waste."