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E.g., 10/27/2016
E.g., 10/27/2016
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a rally with Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Riverfront Sports athletic facility on Aug. 15, 2016 in Scranton, Pa. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty)

Trump ready to go 'to the back of the barn' to confront Biden

10/26/16 09:20AM

At a campaign event in Pennsylvania last week, Vice President Biden made no effort to contain his disgust with Donald Trump, following the release a recording in which the Republican boasted about sexual assault. "The press always asks me, don't I wish I were debating him?" Biden told the audience. "No, I wish we were in high school, and I could take him behind the gym. That's what I wish."

It took a few days, but the GOP nominee heard about Biden's rhetoric and responded at a rally in Florida last night.
Trump remembered the comments slightly differently -- he said, "did you see Biden wants to take me to the back of the barn?" -- but wasn't deterred by the sentiment behind them.

"I'd love that," he said of the idea of the two grown men tussling as if they were high schoolers. "Oh, some things in life you could really love doing," Trump added.

Trump attacked Biden as a "Mr. Tough Guy when he's standing behind a microphone by himself."
For what it's worth, I don't think any of this posturing does anyone any good, and Biden shouldn't have started this pointless spat. He's clearly an emotional guy who wears his heart on his sleeve, and at a certain level it may seem understandable that Biden would respond to Trump's "Access Hollywood" tape in a candid way, but he's a sitting vice president. Biden shouldn't be talking publicly about his desire to beat up a major-party presidential nominee.

Having said that, if there were some kind of showdown between Biden and Trump, history is on the Democrat's side: vice presidents have an undefeated record in these kinds of violent confrontations.
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Former Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks in Providence, R.I.,  (Photo by Steven Senne/AP File)

Colin Powell makes his presidential preference clear

10/26/16 08:40AM

On Oct. 25, 2012, former Secretary of State Colin Powell praised President Obama's record and announced his support for the president's re-election. Exactly four years to the day later, on Oct. 25, 2016, Powell once again weighed in on the nation's presidential race, and again expressed support for the Democratic nominee.
Colin Powell said Tuesday that he is endorsing and voting for Hillary Clinton, NBC News has confirmed. [...]

He has been highly critical of Trump, calling him a "national disgrace" but has also been critical of Clinton. But unlike many Republicans who say they can't vote for Trump but have also said they can neither back Clinton, Powell has come out for Clinton.

He has been a tangential figure this election cycle as hacked emails show that Powell told Clinton when she was beginning her tenure as secretary of State that he used his personal email while at State.
Powell's support doesn't come as too big of a surprise given his criticisms of Trump -- Powell has referred to his party's nominee as a "national disgrace" -- though he obviously could've remained neutral.

It's tough to gauge the impact of a development like this, though it's probably fair to say Powell remains a popular figure, despite his tenure in the Bush/Cheney administration, and one of the nation's most widely respected Republicans. Clinton and her team have made a concerted effort to reach out to mainstream GOP voters, telling them that this is one of those cycles in which they really should vote Democratic, and Powell's backing makes that pitch a little easier.

But of particular interest is how Republicans might try to explain this one away.
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Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Cleveland, Ohio, Oct. 22, 2016. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Trump undermines Republican Party with controversial strategy

10/26/16 08:00AM

A couple of weeks ago, the Republican Party faced crisis conditions. Donald Trump was reeling after a tape emerged of boasting about sexual assault; GOP lawmakers were distancing themselves from their party's presidential nominee; Trump backers held protests outside Republican National Committee headquarters; and party officials were generally at each other's throats. A former GOP senator noted, "It's every person for himself or herself right now."

As Election Day draws closer, that assessment is even more true now. As Rachel noted on last night's show, the Washington Post published a scoop that's almost hard to believe.
Donald Trump's campaign said Tuesday that it has scheduled no more big-money fundraising events to benefit the Republican Party, another sign of the GOP nominee's struggling campaign and a serious blow to the party's get-out-the-vote operations with less than two weeks to go until Election Day.

The consequences of halting major fundraisers will compound the challenges facing a candidate and a party already straining to match Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's much larger and better-financed operation. Unlike Clinton, who has an extensive turnout operation of her own, Trump and many other GOP candidates down the ballot are relying heavily on the Republican National Committee to bring voters to the polls.
With two weeks remaining, Clinton and Democrats are still trying to build as large a financial advantage as possible, not just for the presidential ticket, but to help Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. Vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine didn't have any major rallies scheduled yesterday, but when he sat down with Rachel last night, the interview was scheduled in between five separate fundraisers the senator was headlining just yesterday.

Meanwhile, Steven Mnuchin, Trump's national finance chairman, told the Post that Trump Victory, a joint fundraising operation intended to benefit the candidate and the party, held its last formal fundraising event on Oct. 19 -- three weeks ahead of Election Day -- and no additional events are on the calendar.

Mnuchin added that while online donations continue to come in, "We've kind of wound down."

It's an astonishing strategy, adopted by a Republican presidential nominee who appears increasingly indifferent to his party's needs.
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Tuesday's Mini-Report, 10.25.16

10/25/16 05:31PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Mosul: "As thousands of Iraqi troops slowly encircle the city of Mosul, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter met here Tuesday with key coalition members, suggesting that the battle for the Islamic State's de facto capital in northern Syria could soon begin."

* ISIS: "U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday that the planned offensive against the Islamic State's capital of Raqqa, in Syria, would overlap with the ongoing assault in Mosul, while warning that the terrorist group would feel cornered and seek revenge against targets in Europe or America."

* Wisconsin: "A City Clerk Opposed an Early-Voting Site at UW–Green Bay Because 'Students Lean More Toward the Democrats.'"

* North Dakota: "Former Vice President Al Gore on Tuesday praised demonstrators protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline project in North Dakota, calling the project 'dangerous.' Gore said he is opposed to the $3.8 billion pipeline project and supports the fight to stop it in North Dakota, where the pipeline has become a rallying point for American Indian rights and anti-fossil fuel activists alike."

* Keep an eye on this one: "President Obama is cracking down on 'non-compete' and 'no-poaching' agreements that have become notorious in the Silicon Valley for depressing the wages for tens of thousands of technology workers."

* VW: "A federal judge on Tuesday approved one of the largest consumer settlements in U.S. history, a nearly $15 billion U.S. deal concerning Volkswagen Group's diesel car emissions scandal."
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A man holds a sign directing people to an insurance company where they can sign up for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare in Miami, Fla in 2015. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty)

Donald Trump appears to have no idea what 'Obamacare' is

10/25/16 03:39PM

One of the day's big headlines is both true and good news for Republicans: premiums for some consumers covered through the Affordable Care Act are going up sharply. With this in mind, Donald Trump and his campaign team, desperate to go on the offensive and talk about something new, decided it'd be a good idea to have the candidate put "Obamacare" up front and center today.

What didn't occur to the Republican campaign, however, was something more basic: no one told Trump what the Affordable Care Act is, what it does, or how it works. So, more than six years after Obamacare was signed into law, Americans learned today that the GOP presidential nominee apparently has no idea what he's talking about when he condemns the health care reform measure.

Here's what Trump told Fox News this morning:
"Well, I don't use much Obamacare, I must be honest with you, because it is so bad for the people and they can't afford it. And like, for instance, I'm at Trump National Doral in Miami, and we don't even use Obamacare. We don't want it. The people don't want it and I spend more money on health coverage, but we don't use it."
Trump went on to say that the Affordable Care is "gonna destroy the country."

He seems to be under the impression that the entirety of the law is the availability of coverage through exchanges. That's wrong. When he said, for example, that he his employees "don't even use Obamacare" -- an apparent reference to the subsidized marketplaces -- what Trump may not realize is that consumer protections built into the ACA benefit everyone with private coverage, whether they realize it or not.

The Republican nominee, appearing with employees at the Trump National Doral Club near Miami, added today, "All my employees are having tremendous problems with Obamacare."

Of course, if "all" of his employees are having "tremendous problems with Obamacare," it suggests Trump's workers don't receive health coverage through their employer (namely, him). The club's manager soon after clarified that the venue already provides insurance for nearly all of the facility's employees, which means the premium increases won't affect them.

Trump himself acknowledged soon after that almost none of his employees are "on Obamacare," which is pretty much the opposite of what he'd said this morning. What explains the contradiction? By all appearances, the GOP candidate just doesn't know enough about the Affordable Care Act to criticize it properly, so he made something up, not knowing how little sense it made.
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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback delivers his State of the State speech to an annual joint session of the House and Senate at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., Jan. 15, 2014. (Photo by Orlin Wagner/AP)

What Kansans don't know might hurt them

10/25/16 12:41PM

The Bush/Cheney administration had an amazing gimmick it relied on several times: when reports suggested there was a problem with the White House's agenda, Bush's aides decided it was time to get rid of the reports.

In 2005, for example, after a government report showed an increase in terrorism around the world, the administration announced it would stop publishing its annual report on international terrorism. When the Bush administration was discouraged by data about factory closings, the administration announced it would stop publishing information about factory closings. When Bush's Department of Education found that charter schools were underperforming, the administration said it would sharply cut back on the information it collects about charter schools.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) was a member of Congress during all of this, and it appears he learned a few things from the Republican White House. Bloomberg View published an interesting piece this morning on the Kansas governor's latest move.
Brownback, despite promising to measure the results of a "real life experiment" in cutting taxes, has decided to cancel a quarterly report on the status of the state's economy.

Although Brownback's spokeswoman said "a lot of people were confused by the report," no one has been fooled. The problem was that the reports didn't match the governor's predictions for the state's soon-to-be-booming economy.
As the Topeka Capital-Journal reported, the original idea was to publish a quarterly report to "assure timely analysis of the administration's economic policies." Brownback's Council of Economic Advisors chose specific metrics in advance, which were "championed as an accountability test" of the his economic vision.

And while that may seem like a good idea for a governor who's certain his agenda will work wonders, reality got in the way: timely analysis of Brownback's economic policies became far less appealing when Brownback's economic policies didn't work -- at all.

This left the governor and his team with a choice: adopt more effective economic policies or make it harder to see the evidence of their failures. The GOP Kansan chose the latter -- because as the Bush/Cheney team believed, if a report tells you something you don't want to hear, the obvious move is to get rid of the report.
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Tuesday's Campaign Round-Up, 10.25.16

10/25/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.

* In national polling, the new NBC News/Survey Monkey tracking poll and the latest CNN poll both show Hillary Clinton with five-point leads over Donald Trump.

* As a result of Utah's newfound status as a competitive state, Tim Kaine has a new op-ed in the Deseret News today, and his Republican counterpart, Mike Pence, is headed to Utah today for a campaign event.

* With increasing frequency, what voters hear from Trump is quite different from what they hear from Trump's campaign manager. On a related note, Kellyanne Conway would also like voters to pay less attention to what her boss says on Twitter.

* Trump believes he's been "conceptually" endorsed by the United States military, which doesn't make any sense.

* The American Bar Association has reportedly finished a report on Trump using litigation to silence his critics, but the ABA doesn't want to publish it -- because, ironically, it's afraid Trump might file a lawsuit.

* In Nevada, a poll from the Sheldon Adelson-owned Las Vegas Review-Journal shows Clinton leading Trump in the state, 48% to 41%.

* In North Carolina, new polls put Clinton's lead in the state at one point, three points, and seven points, respectively.

* As for the U.S. Senate race in the Tar Heel State, the Monmouth poll shows incumbent Sen. Richard Burr (R) ahead by six points, while the New York Times/Siena poll shows him trailing Deborah Ross (D) by one point.
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