We've seen press conferences with television personality Donald Trump. And we've seen press conferences with Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). But our friends at Right Wing Watch reported yesterday on one of those rare moments in which the two joined together for one special media event in the right-wing congressman's home district.
The two heaped praise on one another, with Trump calling King "a special guy" and "a smart person with really the right views on almost everything" and King gushing that "time after time, when the hand of Donald Trump reached out and touched something, it turned into something good for America."
And they tried to outdo each other with criticism of President Obama, as Trump evaded questions about his own plans to run for president while blaming Obama for such offenses as turning major U.S. airports into "third-world airports."
Hunter joked, "If Donald Trump and Rep. Steve King had not planned a press conference together, we probably would have had to launch a Kickstarter campaign supporting the idea."
King took full advantage of the opportunity: "In video captured by the Iowa Republican, King went on a long tirade claiming that America is becoming “a third-world country” because of “the things that are coming at us from across the border,” including illegal drugs, Central American children of “prime gang recruitment age,” ISIS, a childhood respiratory illness that has spread in recent weeks, and the Ebola virus. The ISIS and respiratory disease claims are based on unsubstantiated reports in the right-wing media, while there is absolutely no link between border enforcement and Ebola or the Oklahoma beheading incident."
The congressman then said President Obama wants "to treat people in Africa as if they were American citizens," before adding that the president "has pitted people against each other."
About 20 years ago, there was a great episode of "Cheers," featuring a city councilman who goes to the bar to ask voters for support. "Kevin Fogarty, City Council. I hope I have your vote on election day," he says. Frasier Crane asks, "And why exactly should I vote for you, Mr. Fogarty?"
The councilman replies, "Well, because I'm a hard worker, and I take a stand." Crane adds, "On what, exactly?" "The issues of the day," Fogarty replies. "Which are?" Crane asks. "The things that concern you and your family -- the most," the councilman concludes.
The folks in the bar thought this was a great answer, failing to notice that the candidate clearly had nothing of substance to say, and was simply faking his way past the questions, hoping no one would notice.
The "Cheers" episode came to mind last night watching Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) debate former Sen. Scott Brown (R) in New Hampshire. At one point, for example. moderator Chuck Todd asked about climate change -- Brown believes some of the crisis is "natural" -- and pressed the candidates on how best to reduce carbon emissions.
"I'm not going to talk about whether we're going to do something in the future," Brown replied, apparently confused about the purpose of a political campaign.
When Todd asked the Republican to explain the metrics he'd use to determine whether the U.S./Mexico border is secure, Brown replied, "You know it's secure when people don't come across it."
Remember, border security is one of the issues Brown claims to care the most about.
Scott Brown's strategy in his New Hampshire Senate campaign has focused on claims that securing the border would prevent Islamic State militants from crossing into the United States. But when asked on Tuesday for evidence, Brown denied he ever made such statements.
"With respect, I did not say that -- what I have said is ISIS is real," Brown, a Republican, said during the first televised debate of the New Hampshire Senate race.... "Is there a possibility?" he added. "It's been raised that there are opportunities for people to come through that border. What are their intentions, I'm not sure, but they have made it very clear that they want to plant a flag in the White House."
For the second time in five days, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) faced off in a televised debate against former Gov. Charlie Crist (D), and this time, the incumbent didn't hide backstage over the use of an electric fan. Then again, given how the debate went, maybe he should have.
The two covered quite a bit of ground over the course of the hour, but one of the more memorable exchanges came on the issue of the minimum wage. Moderator Jake Tapper raised a question of increasing importance in contemporary Republican politics: whether the minimum wage should exist.
TAPPER: Governor Scott, you have said that you oppose raising the minimum wage because you think it would be a job killer. Clarify something for Florida voters, do you support the principle of a minimum wage? Do you support the concept of a minimum wage?
TAPPER: What should it be?
SCOTT: How would I know? I mean, the private sector decides wages.
It's amazing to see this issue trip up so many Republican governors. Just over the last week or so, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) stumbled, saying about the minimum wage, "I don't think it serves a purpose." Yesterday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told powerful corporate allies that he's annoyed by the debate itself. "I gotta tell you the truth: I'm tired of hearing about the minimum wage," Christie said. "I really am."
But in Florida, Rick Scott seems more confused than his GOP brethren. Asked if he supports the minimum wage on a conceptual level, the governor said, "Sure." But asked what that wage should be, Scott says that's up to the private sector -- in the process making the case against minimum wage on a conceptual level.
Given how popular a minimum-wage increase is, and the number of Floridians struggling in low-paying jobs, it's remarkable the governor and his aides didn't have a better response prepared for this perfectly sensible question.
Rachel Maddow follows up on comments by Pentagon spokesman John Kirby that ISIS lacks air defense capability, and reports that the Pentagon re-asserted that belief when queried by TRMS, suggesting U.S. bombing of those air defenses has been successful. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on disturbing polling from Washington state that shows a considerable portion of voters are likely to vote for both a gun background check ballot measure and a separate measure opposing background checks. watch
Just got my results. 3 consecutive days negative. Ebola free and feeling so blessed. I fought and won, with lots of help. Amazing feeling
* Safeguards: "Anyone flying to the United States from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa must enter the country through one of five airports screening for the disease, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh C. Johnson said Tuesday as the Obama administration stepped up precautions to stop the spread of the virus."
* Spain: "Conclusive tests show a Spanish nursing assistant infected with Ebola is cured of the virus, doctors said Tuesday, signaling a huge step forward in her 15-day battle for survival."
* North Korea: "A Ohio dad who was detained in North Korea in May after reportedly leaving a Bible at a club for sailors has been released and is on his way home, the White House announced on Tuesday. Jeffrey Fowle, 56, was one of three U.S. citizens being held by the reclusive state."
* ISIS: "The Islamic State has released a new video in which it brags that it recovered weapons and supplies that the U.S. military intended to deliver to Kurdish fighters, who are locked in a fight with the militants over control of the Syrian border town of Kobane."
* Ukraine: "The Ukrainian Army appears to have fired cluster munitions on several occasions into the heart of Donetsk, unleashing a weapon banned in much of the world into a rebel-held city with a peacetime population of more than one million, according to physical evidence and interviews with witnesses and victims."
* Quebec: "One of two members of the Canadian military who was run over in a parking lot — an episode that the government believes was an act of terrorism — has died, the police in Quebec said Tuesday."
* Pakistan: "Pakistan Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid has been sacked after pledging allegiance to Islamic State (IS). The militants said he had been replaced but did not name his successor. A statement reiterated support for Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar. It emerged last week that Shahidullah Shahid and five other Pakistan Taliban (TTP) commanders had defected to IS which controls parts of Iraq and Syria."
* Afghanistan: "Afghanistan's new president, Ashraf Ghani, is a man in a hurry to break from his predecessor's governing style. Best not make him late. He drove the point home this month when he started a meeting without the prominent and widely respected interior minister, Umar Daudzai. Mr. Daudzai showed up a few minutes later, and was promptly barred from entry."
* Pennsylvania: "Two fresh sightings of alleged sniper Eric Frein has resulted in more closed public schools in northern Pennsylvania and a shift in a massive manhunt to near where Mr. Frein went to high school – and where he was a member of the high school rifle team."
We talked earlier about Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who was quite candid in recent comments about the politics of health care. In fairness to the governor, it's only fair to note the degree to which he's scrambled since.
To briefly recap, Kasich, who's already run one failed presidential campaign and is rumored to be interested in a 2016 race, told the AP that repealing the Affordable Care Act is "not gonna happen." The Ohio Republican added, "The opposition to it was really either political or ideological. I don't think that holds water against real flesh and blood, and real improvements in people's lives."
The ensuing chatter about his comments has left the governor scrambling, reaching out to news organizations to clarify.
Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich moved quickly to deny a report that quoted him saying repeal of the Affordable Care Act was "not gonna happen," saying that he had been talking instead solely about the health law's expansion of Medicaid, which he has opted to do in his state.
Mr. Kasich, a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate, said his remarks had been misconstrued in a report by the Associated Press that quickly caught the attention of political observers when it appeared Monday afternoon.
As part of the pushback, Kasich told Politico, for example, "I have favored expanding Medicaid, but I don't really see expanding Medicaid as really connected to Obamacare."
This is a bad argument. To say that one opposes a law, except for one of the law's most important provisions, is inherently problematic. The simple truth is, Medicaid expansion wouldn't exist without the Affordable Care Act -- one is literally part of the other. To repeal "Obamacare" would mean the repeal of Medicaid expansion, too, which according to the Ohio governor, is making "real improvements in people's lives."
It's left Kasich in a bizarre position: he's fully committed to repealing the entirety of the successful health care reform initiative, except for the giant part of the law, which he happens to like.
Poor Chris Christie. The embattled Republican governor realizes there are millions of Americans struggling to get by, working for a minimum wage that hasn't budged in far too long, and he's tired -- not of so many working for so little, but rather, or hearing about these workers' plight.
In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today, the New Jersey governor told the business lobby:
"I gotta tell you the truth: I'm tired of hearing about the minimum wage. I really am.
"I don't think there's a mother or father sitting around a kitchen table in America tonight who are saying, 'You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.'"
I see. Some leaders get tired of seeing people struggle. Other leaders get tired of hearing about those who are struggling, and just wish the complaints would go away. In Chris Christie's world, the purchasing power of $7.25 an hour may continue to drop, and millions of hard-working Americans are effectively working for poverty wages, but he just wishes they'd stop bothering him.
For context, it's probably worth noting that the governor of New Jersey makes $175,000 a year -- the fourth highest salary of any state chief executive in the nation.
Also note the part of his comments related to children: as if the minimum wage is primarily for young people.