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The Republican National Committee headquarters, Sept. 9, 2014. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

After criticizing Trump, Nebraska Republican is urged to leave party

08/06/19 10:04AM

In the wake of the latest mass shootings, many Republicans offered "thoughts and prayers." Some complained about video games. Others offered vague recommendations about mental health. Some tried to say very little.

But as the Washington Post reported, John McCollister, a Republican state legislator in Nebraska, a lifelong member of the GOP, and the son of a former Republican congressman, went in a very different direction: he called out Donald Trump and his party for "enabling white supremacy" in the United States.

"I of course am not suggesting that all Republicans are white supremacists nor am I saying that the average Republican is even racist," wrote McCollister, who represents an Omaha-area district. "What I am saying though is that the Republican Party is COMPLICIT to obvious racist and immoral activity inside our party."

McCollister, who was first elected in 2014 and has been described as a moderate Republican, pulled no punches when discussing Trump, who has downplayed the threat of white nationalism in the country.

"We have a Republican president who continually stokes racist fears in his base," he said in his tweets. "He calls certain countries 'sh*tholes,' tells women of color to 'go back' to where they came from and lies more than he tells the truth. We have Republican senators and representatives who look the other way and say nothing for fear that it will negatively affect their elections."

As part of his series of tweets, McCollister added, "When the history books are written, I refuse to be someone who said nothing. The time is now for us Republicans to be honest with what is happening inside our party. We are better than this and I implore my Republican colleagues to stand up and do the right thing."

This apparently didn't go over well with the legislator's colleagues. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) denounced the comments as "baseless" and said he stood with Trump.

The state GOP, meanwhile, called on McCollister to leave the party altogether.

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump participates in a roundtable discussion with African American business and civic leaders, Sept. 2, 2016, in Philadelphia, Pa. (Photo by Evan Vucci/AP)

The problem with Trump's pitch to African-American voters

08/06/19 09:20AM

When Donald Trump sat down with CBS News' Margaret Brennan earlier this year, the "Face the Nation" host asked for the president's reactions to public attitudes on race. Specifically, Brennan reminded Trump that most Americans oppose his handling of race issues, and even some of his allies have acknowledged the president's problems with race.

Trump responded by repeatedly pointing to the unemployment rate. He genuinely seemed to believe that low unemployment was evidence of sound leadership on race – which wasn't just wrong, it also reflected the perspective of someone who hasn't given the issue nearly enough thought.

He still hasn't. This morning, Trump turned to Twitter to insist he's "the least racist person." To support the absurd assertion, the Republican once again pointed to the unemployment rate in minority communities -- a jobless rate that was already falling long before Trump took office.

It's against this backdrop that Politico had an interesting report over the weekend, noting that Trump and his team hope to "shave just a few percentage points off Democrats' overwhelming support among black voters" through a specific strategy.

The Trump 2020 campaign has been quietly reaching out to prominent African Americans about joining its latest coalition, intended to boost Republican support in the black community. [...]

The campaign's pitch to African Americans is simple: Ignore the president's words and instead focus on his policies, the state of the economy, the low unemployment rate, the passage of criminal justice reform and the creation of Opportunity Zones, which are meant to bolster investment in underserved or poorer cities.

The idea, apparently, is for Team Trump to effectively tell African-American voters, "If you overlook Trump's racism, his record toward the African-American community is pretty great."

Broadly speaking, there are two main problems with this. The first is that asking anyone, much less communities of color, to look past a leader's overt racism is plainly ridiculous.

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The Texas flag flies at the entrance to the Cibolo Creek Ranch in Shafter, Texas. (Photo by Matthew Busch/Getty)

Latest retirements signal Texas trouble for Republicans

08/06/19 08:40AM

As of this morning, 11 U.S. House members have announced their retirement plans, and nine of the announcements have come from Republicans. Most have come over the last two weeks.

But while there's some geographic diversity within the group, four of the retiring GOP incumbents are from Texas -- including an important one who formally declared his intentions yesterday.

Representative Kenny Marchant of Texas announced on Monday that he plans to retire, becoming the fourth Republican House member from Texas in recent weeks to head for the exits rather than face re-election in 2020 in a state that is rapidly becoming more competitive. [...]

Mr. Marchant, who was first elected in 2004, won his suburban Dallas district by comfortable margins for over a decade, but last year he prevailed by only three points against a Democratic opponent who had relatively modest financial resources. Mr. Marchant, a low-key member and reliably conservative vote, sits on the influential Ways and Means Committee.

The results from 2018 no doubt rattled Marchant, who struggled against a candidate he expected to defeat easily. On the same day, in Texas' U.S. Senate race, Beto O'Rourke (D) defeated Ted Cruz (R) in the 24th congressional district by three points.

Two years earlier, Donald Trump won the district -- situated between Dallas and Fort Worth -- but only by six points.

Given these details, Democratic officials fully expect to compete in this open-seat contest next year -- just as the party has high hopes for Texas' 23rd district, where Rep. Will Hurd (R) announced his retirement last week.

It's renewed a fair amount of chatter about a question that's been lurking in the background: just how competitive could the Lone Star State become? The Associated Press reported yesterday:

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File photo taken in November 2017 shows U.S. President Donald Trump (and Chinese President Xi Jinping attending a welcome ceremony in Beijing.

Remember when Trump said trade wars were 'good' and 'easy to win'?

08/06/19 08:00AM

Some of Donald Trump's tweets are more important than others. A year and a half ago, the president declared that the United States is "losing many billions of dollars" on trade, which reflected a degree of confusion about how the economy works. The differences between trade deficits and "losing money" matter -- and are obvious to those with a basic familiarity with the issue.

But Trump quickly added on March 2, 2018, "[T]rade wars are good, and easy to win."

I wonder if he still believes that.

In the wake of the Republican president's decision last week to expand tariffs on Chinese imports -- effectively reaching the point at which all goods from China will be subjected to Trump's taxes -- CNBC reported yesterday that officials in Beijing confirmed that China, one of the world's largest consumers of American agricultural products, is "pulling out of U.S. agriculture as a weapon in the ongoing trade war."

China also allowed its currency to slide yesterday, prompting the White House to declare China a currency manipulator, further escalating tensions.

Meanwhile, on Wall Street -- which Trump monitors "obsessively" -- the Dow Jones has dropped nearly 1,500 points since last Tuesday. It's now lower than it was when the Republican initiated the trade war in early 2018.

Slate's Jordan Weissmann explained yesterday that one of the things that has people so nervous is the fact that there's "no obvious way this conflict can be resolved."

Trump reportedly decided to impose tariffs in spite of the fact that all but one of his advisers opposed them. (The exception was Peter Navarro, the White House's anti-China trade adviser.) He is hellbent on "winning," whatever that means, and appears convinced, despite all available evidence thus far, that he can eventually grind the Chinese down through sheer stubbornness.

But Beijing is standing firm, because it is determined to project strength both at home and abroad, and backing down now would instead show vulnerability.

By all appearances, Trump thought he could simply bully China into submission. It's not working.

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El Paso shooter reportedly sharing details with investigators

El Paso shooter reportedly sharing details with investigators

08/05/19 09:31PM

Pete Williams, NBC News justice correspondent, talks about the different aspects of the investigation into the El Paso shooter and the charges he faces on both a federal and state level, including domestic terrorism and murder, and shares some new details authorities are learning as the shooter is reportedly talking about his planning and... watch

Political movement grows against inert, NRA-beholden legislators

Political movement grows against inert, NRA-beholden legislators

08/05/19 09:29PM

Despite overwhelming support among Americans (and even among gun owners) for new gun safetly legislation like background checks, many members of Congress are more concerned with their NRA rating, and some are protected by Mitch McConnell from ever having to face the question in the form of a vote. Senator Chris Murphy and Shannon Watts, founder... watch

Trump has yet to speak out against radicalism he inspires

Trump has yet to speak out against radicalism he inspires

08/05/19 09:19PM

Evidence suggests white supremacists and white nationalists in the United States are taking inspiration from Donald Trump, which gives him the power to potentially turn them away from violent acts. Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI assistant director for counter intelligence, Clint Watts, former FBI special agent, and James Alan Fox, criminologist at... watch