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Former Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to supporters after announcing that he will run for president in 2016 June 4, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty)

An endorsement for the onetime 'cancer on conservatism'

05/06/16 10:40AM

At various points through the Republicans' presidential primary process, various GOP leaders and candidates thought they could derail Donald Trump with one big speech. Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, and others stepped up the plate, delivered carefully crafted remarks on the dangers Trump posed to the party and the country, and hoped the weight of their words would change the trajectory of the race.
 
Each, obviously, failed.
 
Among the most notable of these speeches, however, came by way of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who invited the press to a DC hotel near the White House last July to deliver an anti-Trump stem-winder.
 
"My fellow Republicans, beware of false prophets," Perry said at the time. "Do not let itching ears be tickled by messengers who appeal to anger, division and resentment. I will not go quiet when this cancer on conservatism threatens to metastasize into a movement of mean-spirited politics that will send the Republican Party to the same place it sent the Whig Party in 1854: the graveyard."
 
Perry went on to characterize Trump as "a barking carnival act" who offers a "toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued." Keep all of this in mind when considering what Perry said yesterday. TPM reported:
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Thursday endorsed Donald Trump and left the door open to becoming the Republican vice presidential nominee.
 
"He is not a perfect man. But what I do believe is that he loves this country and he will surround himself with capable, experienced people and he will listen to them," Perry told CNN. "He wasn't my first choice, wasn't my second choice, but he is the people's choice." [...]
 
"He is one of the most talented people who has ever run for the president I have ever seen," Perry told CNN.
When the subject turned to a possible role as Trump's running mate, the Texas Republican added, "I am going to be open to any way I can help. I am not going to say no."
 
No, of course not. Why say no to partnering with "a barking carnival act" who represents a "cancer on conservatism," who's poised to send your party to the "graveyard"?
In this Jan. 29, 2015 file photo, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/File/AP)

Grassley: Trump would nominate the 'right type' of Court justice

05/06/16 10:00AM

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has handled the current Supreme Court vacancy about as badly as humanly possible. The result has been an ignominious mess without precedent in American history.
 
The Iowa Republican, whose 2016 re-election bid is suddenly a lot less obvious than it was a few months ago, seems to realize that things aren't going well. Two weeks ago, Grassley acknowledged that he's facing the toughest campaign cycle of his lengthy career, and he blamed his political difficulties on "the Supreme Court issue."
 
Donald Trump's rise as the Republicans' presumptive presidential nominee complicates "the Supreme Court issue," of course, since in practical terms, Grassley and his GOP colleagues are imposing a blockade in order to empower Trump to make the selection. Senate Republicans, in other words, are executing an unpopular strategy in order to help an unpopular candidate.
 
Grassley conceded last week that the entire gambit is a "gamble," since it could mean Hillary Clinton nominating a younger, more progressive jurist. But as the Des Moines Register reported this week, it's a gamble the Iowa Republican is prepared to make.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Wednesday he thinks Donald Trump, now the presumptive Republican nominee for president, would nominate the "right type of people" to the U.S. Supreme Court. [...]
 
"Based upon the type of people he'd be looking for, I think I would expect the right type of people to be nominated by him to the Supreme Court," Grassley said.
Is that so.
Paul LePage

Maine's LePage ready to try federal policymaking

05/06/16 09:20AM

By most measures, Maine Gov. Paul LePage's (R) tenure hasn't gone especially well. The Tea Party Republican, elected twice after an independent candidate split the center-left in both races, has generally earned a reputation as an offensive buffoon, whose antics often border on repulsive.
 
But as WMTW in Portland reported yesterday, the Maine governor is nevertheless ready for some kind of promotion.
Gov. Paul LePage hopes Donald Trump picks him to be part of his administration if he is elected to office.
 
If not, he'll run against Angus King for U.S. Senate in 2018. That's what the governor said at his town hall meeting in Lewiston on Wednesday night.
"I said earlier that if I'm not into the Trump Administration, I will be running against Angus King," LePage reportedly said. "Now, don't tell my wife. She hasn't said yes yet."
 
In other words, the Maine governor is so confident in his successes as a state policymaker, he's ready to parlay his unique talents into shaping federal policy, too.
 
The Republican didn't specify exactly which job he'd like to have in a Trump administration -- LePage has no real areas of expertise -- and the presumptive Republican nominee, who picked up the Maine governor's endorsement in February, hasn't publicly suggested he expects LePage to be part of his team.
 
And yet, the governor, perhaps tired of his current job and the frequency with which his many vetoes are overturned, is nevertheless daring to dream.

Job growth cools a bit in April, but unemployment remains low

05/06/16 08:43AM

After strong jobs reports in February and March, expectations were that the hot streak would continue into April.
 
That's not quite what happened. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the U.S. economy added 160,000 jobs in April, below projections. The overall unemployment rate remained 5.0%, and for the first time in over eight years, we've been at or below this level for seven consecutive months.
 
As for the revisions: February's job totals were revised down a little, from 245,000 to 233,000, while March's totals were also revised down a bit, from 215,000 to 208,000. Combined, that's a loss of 19,000.
 
All things considered, it's a discouraging report, though the news wasn't all bad: this same report pointed to a decent bump in wages, which serves as a nice silver lining.
 
Over the last 12 months, the overall economy has created 2.69 million new jobs, which is a pretty healthy number. What's more, March was the 67th consecutive month of positive job growth -- the best stretch since 1939 -- and the 74th consecutive month in which we've seen private-sector job growth, which is the longest on record.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, April 6, 2016, in Bethpage, N.Y. (Photo by Julie Jacobson/AP)

Obama, Trump, and a classic example of life imitating art

05/06/16 08:00AM

Over the weekend, President Obama spoke at the White House Correspondents' Dinner where he directed jokes at all kinds of folks, friend and foe, though he seemed to especially enjoy mocking presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
 
"The Republican establishment is incredulous that [Trump] is their most likely nominee -- incredulous, shocking," Obama said. "They say Donald lacks the foreign policy experience to be president. But, in fairness, he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world: Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan...."
 
The point, obviously, is that experience with beauty pageants is a poor substitute for actual foreign policy experience. And with this in mind, it was striking to see Trump's latest interview on Fox News late yesterday, where life imitated art. Mid-way through the interview, Bret Baier brought up Russia:
BAIER: About Russia, you were asked yesterday if you've ever spoken to Vladimir Putin, and you said, "I don't want to say."
 
TRUMP: Yeah, I have no comment on that. No comment. I was in Russia --
 
BAIER: But one of the thing people like about is to answer any question.
 
TRUMP: Yeah, but I don't want to comment because, let's assume I did. Perhaps it was personal. You know, I don't want to hurt his confidence. But I know Russia well. I had a major event in Russia two or three years ago -- Miss Universe contest -- which is a big, incredible event, and incredible success. I got to meet a lot of people. And you know what? They want to be friendly with the United States. Wouldn't it be nice if we actually got with somebody?
Oh my.

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