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E.g., 8/31/2016
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Donald Trump Donald Trump campaign rally, Aug. 22, 2016 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Amy Harris/REX/Shutterstock)

Trump makes a familiar mistake about American political history

08/31/16 11:00AM

I'm not surprised Donald Trump would make this argument; I'm surprised it took him so long to get to this point.
"The Republican Party is the party of Abraham Lincoln. Not bad," said Trump, speaking at a rally in the Seattle suburb of Everett. "Not bad. It's also the party of freedom, equality and opportunity."
 
"It is the Democratic Party that is the party of slavery, the party of Jim Crow and the party of opposition," Trump said, drawing boos from the supportive crowd, which was heavily white.
As the Washington Post's report noted, Trump was reading from prepared remarks, which sometimes gives him trouble: his mention of "party of opposition," for example, was supposed to be "part of oppression."
 
Nevertheless, it was only a matter of time before Trump, more pundit than candidate, adopted one of the more popular historical arguments embraced by conservative commentators.
 
Unfortunately for the Republican presidential nominee, it's a point he doesn't seem to understand especially well.
 
As regular readers know, we usually revisit this story about once a year, and in light of Trump's rhetoric in Washington last night, now is as good a time as any to set the record straight once more.
Governor Paul LePage speaks during the Republican Party State Convention, May 6, 2012. (Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald/Getty)

Maine Republican leaders ready to overlook LePage's controversies

08/31/16 10:03AM

Facing a variety of controversies, Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) publicly acknowledged yesterday morning that he might resign before the end of his term. Later in the day, the Republican governor dismissed the "rumors" about his possible resignation, apparently confused about the fact that LePage himself was responsible for creating the scuttlebutt in the first place.
 
There's no shortage of questions about the governor's mess, but among the most pressing is what in the world Maine Republicans intend to do about it. Because the fact remains that if GOP legislators in the Pine Tree State turn on LePage, the governor's decisions about his future could very well be made for him.
 
With this in mind, as Rachel noted on the show last night, Maine's Republican state lawmakers took the highly unusual step last night of holding an out-of-session caucus meeting to discuss what to do about their flailing governor. The answer, apparently, is nothing. The Portland Press Herald reported this morning:
The Republican minority caucus in the Maine House has decided not to take any action to address recent inflammatory comments by Republican Gov. Paul LePage.
 
The House Republicans decided they would stand by the governor Tuesday following a more than two-hour private meeting where they discussed recent racially charged comments LePage has made at [a] series of public meetings and an obscenity-laced voice mail the governor left for a Democratic lawmaker last week.
State House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R) said he and his GOP colleagues in the state House "are going to go out there and start talking about the issues and start talking to the voters because we believe that's what's important." He added, "We are not coming back in for a special session to talk about this."
 
The implication is that, as far as the state House Minority Leader is concerned, Paul LePage's erratic and offensive behavior is not "important," and shouldn't be considered one of "the issues" facing Maine.

A report from WCSH, the NBC affiliate in Portland, added that state House Republican leaders "said they do expect a genuine apology from Gov. LePage, but when asked by several reporters what exactly they think needs to happen next, they were unclear, only saying that they hope to move forward to the issues at hand and upcoming elections."
An Aedes Aegypti mosquito is seen in a lab of the International Training and Medical Research Training Center (CIDEIM) in Cali, Colombia, Feb. 2, 2016. (Photo by Jaime Saldarriaga/Reuters)

In Zika fight, CDC nearly 'out of money'

08/31/16 09:21AM

Before Congress broke for its lengthy summer recess, President Obama and public-health officials implored the Republican-run House and Senate to do one thing: approve funding for the fight against the Zika virus. GOP leaders instead played partisan games with the bill and left Capitol Hill without having accomplished anything to address the threat.
 
As NBC News reported yesterday, their negligence carries consequences.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is almost out of money to fight the Zika virus, the agency's director said Tuesday -- just hours before Florida announced three fresh homegrown cases of the infection.
 
Zika has now infected 46 people locally in Florida, presumably spread by mosquitoes. One case is part of an outbreak in Miami Beach and health officials say they're trying to trace the origins of two others.
 
And the CDC, which has been helping Florida track cases and fight mosquitoes, is almost broke.
"Basically, we are out of money and we need Congress to act," CDC Director Thomas Frieden told reporters yesterday.
 
But congressional Republicans have chosen not to act, in part because of an instinctive discomfort with new government spending, and in part because some GOP lawmakers are skeptical about the seriousness of the Zika threat itself.
 
This has left officials like Frieden to raise the volume while ringing the alarm, hoping greater awareness of the problem might prompt Congress to do what's necessary to protect the public. From the NBC News report:
People walk past the U.S. Capitol dome in the hours before President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington, Jan. 12, 2016. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

House Democrat ousted on year's last big primary day

08/31/16 08:42AM

On the last big primary day of 2016, nearly all of the key races wrapped up as expected. In Arizona, for example, Sen. John McCain (R) easily dispatched his primary rival. In Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) won their respective Senate primaries, and will face off for a closely watched contest in the fall.
 
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) faced a competitive rival in her Florida district, but she prevailed with relative ease, despite her challenger receiving an endorsement from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
 
But what caught my eye was the outcome of the primary in Florida's 5th congressional district. The Tampa Bay Times reported overnight:
Indicted U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown of Jacksonville was defeated Tuesday night, scandal upending her long congressional career as Al Lawson of Tallahassee blew past her.
 
Brown, first elected in 1992, has endured controversy before, but in June was indicted on fraud charges over connection to a charity, One Door for Education Foundation Inc. She and others are accused of taking money intended for scholarships.
 
She also had the challenge of a redrawn district that extended into former state Sen. Lawson's turf.
We discussed the criminal indictment against Brown a couple of months ago, and the allegations, which the congresswoman denies, are quite serious. It's not impossible for a member of Congress to win an election while facing public-corruption charges, but it definitely makes things awkward for the incumbent.
 
With nearly all of the precincts reporting, Brown lost by about 8 percentage points. Given the district's Democratic leanings, Lawson is widely expected to win the seat in November.
 
But in the larger context, Brown joins a very small club: members of Congress ousted in 2016 during a primary.
Donald Trump Gives Address On Immigration In Phoenix

Donald Trump takes a big risk with last-minute Mexico trip

08/31/16 08:00AM

It's become fairly common in recent years for presidential candidates in both parties to visit a foreign country during their campaign, and in some respects, it's not a bad idea. There's real value in having the public see candidates, especially those with little foreign-policy experience, engage in some international diplomacy, shake hands with foreign officials, and if all goes well, return home with additional gravitas.
 
At least, that's the theory. In practice, as Donald Trump is about to discover, these foreign excursions carry risks, too.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto ahead of a major speech on immigration on Wednesday.
 
The Washington Post first reported that Pena Nieto had extended invitations to both Trump and his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, to travel to Mexico City for a meeting. Trump and the Mexican leader later confirmed the meeting on Twitter.
It's apparently going to be quite a day for the Republican presidential nominee. Trump is scheduled to deliver a "major speech" in Arizona this evening on immigration policy, which may help address some of the confusion about the candidate's position, but those remarks will apparently come after Trump's jaunt to Mexico for a public-relations stunt.
 
I don't necessarily mean that in a pejorative way; plenty of successful national campaigns have used public-relations stunts to great effect over the years. But there can be no doubt that Trump intends to take a brief sojourn to Mexico City because he hopes the time investment will pay electoral dividends.
 
The question, of course, is whether those benefits will actually materialize. The odds are against it.

Tuesday's Mini-Report, 8.30.16

08/30/16 05:20PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* A major development: "The ISIS leader at the top of the U.S. kill list is dead, according to a media arm of the terrorist organization. The circumstances of Abu Muhammad al-Adnani's death in Aleppo, Syria, have not been confirmed. Officials in Washington -- who had offered a $5 million reward for al-Adnani, the terror group's No. 2 man -- had no immediate comment."
 
* Chicago: "[P]olice Superintendent Eddie Johnson has filed administrative charges seeking to fire five officers involved in the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald in October 2014."
 
* Commutations: "President Obama commuted the sentences of 111 more federal inmates Tuesday, capping a month in which he's nearly doubled the number of commutations granted during his presidency.... The commutations -- a shortening of a criminal sentence using the president's constitutional pardon power -- are part of the Obama administration's two-year old clemency initiative."
 
* Kyrgyzstan: "A suicide bomber blew himself up inside the Chinese Embassy's compound in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, on Tuesday morning, wounding three Kyrgyz staff members, according to local officials."
 
* Apple "must pay up to $14.5 billion in back taxes to Ireland, the European Union ruled Tuesday after the bloc's anti-trust arm concluded that the technology firm was given illegal tax benefits over two decades."
 
* I think she's in trouble: "It was another marathon session in Brazil's congress. There was heated debate over the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, this time with the suspended president herself at the center of the questioning, giving answers to more than 50 senators one by one. It was an unprecedented moment in Brazilian history, the final episode in a trial expected to end with her permanent removal from office."

Tuesday's Campaign Round-Up, 8.30.16

08/30/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
 
* It's primary day in Florida and Arizona. Pay particular attention to Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) primary, the U.S. Senate primaries in both parties in Florida, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's (D-Fla.) House race.
 
* Former KKK leader David Duke launched a robocall this week, asking voters to support his Senate campaign in Louisiana and Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Team Trump has disavowed the message.
 
* First, Marco Rubio said he wouldn't seek re-election to the Senate. Second, Rubio said he wants a second term after all. This morning, Rubio complicated matters further, refusing to say whether he'd serve a full term if re-elected.
 
* Mark Burns, a pro-Trump pastor and campaign surrogate, apologized yesterday after tweeting a cartoon of Hillary Clinton in blackface.
 
* Bernie Sanders yesterday emailed his large mailing list, encouraging his backers to support four U.S. Senate candidates in tough races: Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania, Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire, Ted Strickland in Ohio, and Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada.
 
* On a related note, one of those four appears to be in trouble: Ohio's Ted Strickland (D), once thought to be well positioned to defeat incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R), has struggled of late. This week, the DSCC and Senate Majority PAC delayed ad buys in the Buckeye State that had been scheduled to run on Strickland's behalf.
 
* Add Charles Fried, Ronald Reagan's solicitor general, to the list of Republicans supporting Clinton's candidacy.
 
Poll results from Emerson College, released yesterday, found Clinton leading Trump by 5 points in Michigan, 3 points in Pennsylvania, and tied in Ohio.
Paul LePage

Maine's Paul LePage eyes possible resignation

08/30/16 11:01AM

Over the last week, Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) has made several overly racist comments and left a threatening, expletive-laden phone message for a state legislator. This, coupled with his history of bizarre and erratic behavior, has led a variety of Maine officials to call for his resignation and question his mental stability.
 
Last night, the embattled Republican governor met privately with top GOP state lawmakers, and LePage reportedly spoke about "corrective action" he could take in the wake of the ugly controversies he created.
 
The Portland Press Herald reported this morning that LePage "raised the possibility" of resigning during an interview today.
"I'm looking at all options," the Republican governor said while appearing on WVOM, a Bangor talk radio station. "I think some things I've been asked to do are beyond my ability. I'm not going to say that I'm not going to finish it. I'm not saying that I am going to finish it."
 
He later said, "If I've lost my ability to help Maine people, maybe it's time to move on."
Reflecting on the threatening voicemail message he left for a Maine Democrat last week, LePage tried contrition for a change, saying, "When I was called a racist I just lost it, and there's no excuse. It's unacceptable. It's totally my fault."
 
The governor nevertheless believes his racist comments last week were accurate. As the Press Herald report added, LePage insisted, "Every drug arrest, we get the story and the people, and when it comes to meth labs it's all white people from Maine. When it comes to heroin, it's just the opposite. Whether it's right or wrong and I'll leave you to make that judgement, but I spoke fact.
 
"Now they are saying, you can't do this because of the racially charged atmosphere in our country but the same token is all lives matter. That's the bottom line, all lives matter."

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