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Friday's Mini-Report, 10.14.16

10/14/16 05:47PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Right message, right messenger: "President Obama on Friday implored voters [in Cleveland] to 'reject a dark and pessimistic vision' offered by Donald J. Trump and urged a robust turnout on behalf of Hillary Clinton in a state where the presidential candidates are locked in a razor-thin contest."

* This is not all right: "Two Donald Trump supporters flashed their firearms outside a campaign office in Virginia on Thursday night, in what they said was an effort to protest Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and unite likeminded voters."

* This won't end well: "The Nevada state Assembly on Friday approved legislation that will devote $750 million in public tax money to the construction of a new NFL stadium. The subsidy is the largest ever for an American sports stadium."

* Overdue: "The Justice Department said Thursday that it would begin collecting nationwide data on deadly police encounters early next year, starting the most ambitious effort the federal government has ever undertaken to track police killings and the use of force after a series of episodes embroiled cities across the country in protests and investigations."

* Ginsburg's walkback: "Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is apologizing for characterizing as 'dumb and disrespectful' the national anthem protests by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other athletes. The court released a statement from Ginsburg on Friday in which she said she was barely aware of the anthem protest and that her comments were 'inappropriately dismissive and harsh.'"

* Age of the Geek: "I'm a science geek. I'm a nerd, and I don't make any apologies for it," President Obama said yesterday.
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U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump looks on during a campaign rally in Prescott Valley, Ariz., Oct. 4, 2016. (Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters)

As more accusers come forward, Trump presents a new defense

10/14/16 05:22PM

After several women this week came forward to accuse Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, many wondered whether or not others would raise additional allegations. It didn't take long to find out.

Today, a woman named Kristin Anderson told the Washington Post about an incident from the 1990s in which, she alleges, Trump slid his fingers "under her miniskirt, moved up her inner thigh, and touched her vagina through her underwear." Though Anderson "recounted the story to people she knew" over the years, and it's consistent with Trump's own recorded boasts about his private behavior, a spokesperson for the Republican's campaign said he "strongly denies this phony allegation."

Soon after, Summer Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice," held a press conference to claim that Trump sexually accosted her at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

As for the GOP ticket, Trump said yesterday, "We already have substantial evidence to dispute these lies and it will be made public in an appropriate way at an appropriate time very soon." Mike Pence added this morning we should expect this evidence "before the day is out."

So far, the Republican campaign, which continues to deny the veracity of the allegations, doesn't appear to have come up with much in terms of evidence disputing the claims brought forward by Trump's accusers. The candidate did, however, offer this.
Trump went further to say he'd never met these people, despite one of the accusers, Natasha Stoynoff, having done an in-person interview with Trump and his wife Melania early in their marriage. Trump flatly called Stoynoff "a liar" and directed the crowd to "check out her Facebook page - you'll understand."

Trump said another accuser, Jessica Leeds, who alleges Trump groped her on an airplane thirty years ago, "Would not be his first choice."

"When you looked at that horrible woman last night," Trump said in an apparent reference to her appearance on CNN, "you said, I don't think so, I don't think so.
The not-so-subtle implication was that Trump doesn't find one of his accusers physically attractive, so we shouldn't believe her claims of sexual assault.

The GOP nominee went on to say today that a Mexican billionaire should be blamed, at least in part, for the allegations, and that when Hillary Clinton walked in front of him during the second presidential debate, "believe me, I wasn't impressed."

With 25 days remaining before Election Day, Donald Trump is no longer being subtle about his misogyny. The Republican has no use for subtext, relying instead of text, and transitioning to an overtly misogynistic message to voters.
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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally, Oct. 13, 2016, in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Evan Vucci/AP)

Donald Trump puts his messianic message in a new light

10/14/16 12:48PM

When Donald Trump told a Florida audience yesterday that Hillary Clinton is plotting with international financiers to "plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty," it marked a new level of crazy in the Republican presidential hopeful's campaign. But the GOP nominee also took another step yesterday in packaging his candidacy's increasingly messianic message.

This week, the Republican ticket unveiled an ad with an unusual message: "Donald Trump will protect you. He is the only one who can." It wasn't a throwaway line: Trump has said repeatedly in recent months that he "alone" can solve the nation's problems. In May, he went so far as to declare, "I will give you everything. I will give you what you've been looking for for 50 years. I'm the only one."

Yesterday, however, Trump's savior complex took an even creepier turn:
"They knew they would throw every lie they could at me and my family and my loved ones. They knew they would stop at nothing to try to stop me. But I never knew, as bad as it would be, I never knew it would be this vile, that it would be this bad, that it would be this vicious.

"Nevertheless, I take all of these slings and arrows gladly for you. I take them for our movement so that we can have our country back.

"Our great civilization, here in America and across the civilized world has come upon a moment of reckoning."
Later in the speech, Trump added, "In my former life I was an insider, as much as anybody else. And I knew what it's like, and I still know what it's like to be an insider. It's not bad, it's not bad. Now I'm being punished for leaving the special club and revealing to you the terrible things that are going on having to do with our country. Because I used to be part of the club, I'm the only one that can fix it."

His followers shouldn't trust journalists, because news organizations represent "a political special interest" that's at "war" with Americans' interests. His followers shouldn't look to congressional Republican leaders, either, because they're in on a "sinister deal." Trump fans must also reject corporations, the finance industry, and the "global power structure," because they're all part of a conspiracy that puts "our civilization" at risk.

What these voters should do, apparently, is trust just one man. Trump will tell you the truth. Trump will keep you safe. Trump will solve your problems. Trump can "make possible every dream you've ever dreamed."
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Friday's Campaign Round-Up, 10.14.16

10/14/16 12:00PM

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

* Can Mike Pence say with certainty that Donald Trump didn't assault any of his women accusers? The Indiana governor faced this question yesterday afternoon, and he wouldn't answer directly.

* In response to the allegations of sexual misconduct, Trump said yesterday, "We already have substantial evidence to dispute these lies and it will be made public in an appropriate way at an appropriate time very soon." Pence added this morning we should expect this evidence "before the day is out."

* No one seriously believes Texas will be competitive this year, but a new poll commissioned by WFAA-TV and Texas TEGNA television stations shows Trump leading Clinton by just four points, 47% to 43%.

* The Washington Post reports that 10 former nuclear launch control officers "who once held the keys needed to fire on the president's order have signed an open letter saying they think Donald Trump should not be entrusted with the nation's nuclear codes."

* According to the New York Times, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has been "deeply shaken" by recent revelations about Trump. He reportedly told one longtime associate that he was having "sleepless nights."

* Charles Krauthammer, one of the nation's most prominent conservative pundits, argues in his new column that Trump is wrong to push for Clinton's incarceration: "The prize for the winner is temporary accession to limited political power, not the satisfaction of vendettas. Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chávez and a cavalcade of two-bit caudillos lock up their opponents. American leaders don't."
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Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) and U.S. president Barack Obama greet supporters during a campaign rally on July 5, 2016 in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty)

Obama, Clinton stop separating Trump from his party

10/14/16 11:20AM

It was a strategy many congressional Democrats hated. Hillary Clinton, eager to reach as broad a slice of the electorate as possible, made a conscious decision to draw distinctions between the Republican Party and Donald Trump. Sure, he's the GOP's presidential nominee, the argument went, but Trump is so extreme in so many ways that rank-and-file Republicans should see him as something altogether different.

For Democrats, this message appeared likely to help Clinton, but not her down-ballot allies who desperately want to tie Trump -- his scandals, his unpopularity, his radical agenda, et al -- to other Republicans. The more Clinton separated the two, the more difficult the partisan task became.

President Obama nevertheless sided with Clinton in this fight, saying in his Democratic convention speech, "Look, we Democrats have always had plenty of differences with the Republican Party, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's precisely this contest of idea that pushes our country forward. But what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn't particularly Republican -- and it sure wasn't conservative."

That was in late July. The Democratic strategy has since changed.

The New Republic's Brian Beutler had a good piece the other day explaining that anti-Trump Republicans weren't especially moved by Clinton's and Obama's not-so-subtle invitation, so the party's top two figures have adopted a more combative posture.
"I think it's pretty stunning that after the debate, the speaker of the House has to come out and say that he will no longer defend Donald Trump and that each Republican member of Congress has to decide for themselves whether or not they're going to support their party's nominee," Clinton's communications director, Jen Palmieri, told reporters Monday. "I understand why they're doing that, but Paul Ryan and other leaders in the Republican Party—there was a time where they could have spoken out. That time was this summer. And obviously it's too late now. Somewhat of a civil war is breaking out in the Republican Party, but I think that Donald Trump didn't become the nominee of his party on his own. These leaders helped legitimize him and I think they have a lot to answer for and the voters I imagine will hold them accountable." [...]

The unambiguous message is that Clinton's offer not to treat Trump as a totem of the Republican Party has expired.
This dynamic was also abundantly clear in President Obama's remarks last night in Ohio, where he made his most direct case to date that Trump and his party must be linked, and GOP officials and candidates should be held responsible for their candidate's dreadful presidential campaign: