U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald walks to the stage past an American flag at a fundraising event where he appeared with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in Lawrenceville, N.J., May 19, 2016. 
Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

First Read: Why calling Trump ‘risky’ won’t work for Democrats

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.

Risky Business: Why calling Trump “risky” won’t work for Democrats

Earlier this week while campaigning in Kentucky, Hillary Clinton slammed Donald Trump for being “a loose cannon” and for his “risky” talk. She said, “I’ve never heard such reckless, risky talk from somebody about to be a nominee for president than I’ve heard from Donald Trump when it comes to nuclear weapons.” But there’s a downside for calling someone risky – you’re suggesting that he brings some potential benefits, too. As Guy Cecil, who’s heading the pro-Clinton Super PAC Priorities USA, told Politico: ”I frankly don’t think ‘risky’ captures it, because ‘risk’ implies potential upside.” Strikingly, Clinton yesterday dropped the risky/loose cannon rhetoric and bluntly said that Trump isn’t qualified in her interview with CNN. “I think in this past week – whether it’s attacking Great Britain, praising the leader of North Korea, a despotic dictator who has nuclear weapons, whether it is saying ‘pull out of NATO,’ ‘let other countries have nuclear weapons’ – the kinds of positions he is stating and the consequences of those positions, and even the consequences of his statements, are not just offensive to people. They are potentially dangerous,” she said.

Republicans are beginning to come home to Trump

Here’s the bad news for Trump in the latest New York Times/CBS poll: He’s trailing Hillary Clinton nationally by six points, 47%-41%, though that’s down from 50%-40% last month. But here’s the good news: Republicans are starting to rally around him since becoming the party’s presumptive presidential nominee. In the poll, Republicans back him 85%-6% in the matchup against Clinton, versus Democrats who are supporting Clinton by an 88%-5% clip; independents are split, 40%-40% between the two candidates. Also as the New York Times highlights, “Eight in 10 Republican voters say their leaders should support Mr. Trump even if they disagree with him on important issues. And unfavorable views toward Mr. Trump among Republican voters have plummeted 15 percentage points since last month; 21 percent now express an unfavorable view of him, down from 36 percent in April.” But there are still some danger signs for the GOP: 84% of Republicans in the NYT/CBS poll say their party is divided, and 43% are mostly discouraged about the GOP’s future. That’s compared with 48% of Democrats who believe their party is divided, and 17% discouraged about its future. So Republicans are consolidating around Trump, but there are still significant wounds inside the party

Clinton: “I will be the nominee for my party”

Also in Clinton’s interview with CNN yesterday, she was equally blunt in her talk about Bernie Sanders. When CNN’s Chris Cuomo used the words “if you’re the nominee of your party,” Clinton interjected, “I will be the nominee for my party… There is no way that I won’t be.” And while she said she “very disturbed” what by happened at the Nevada state Democratic convention by Sanders supporters, per MSNBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald, Clinton said she was confident the party would unite. But she added that Sanders must do his part to unite the party – just like she did in 2008. In response to Clinton’s assertion that she will be the nominee, the Sanders campaign fired off this rocket: “In the past three weeks, voters in Indiana, West Virginia, and Oregon respectfully disagreed with Secretary Clinton… [I]t is clear that millions of Americans have growing doubts about the Clinton campaign.” Here’s the updated delegate math after awarding Sanders the final three pledged delegates out of Oregon:

In pledged delegates, Clinton currently holds a lead of 274 delegates

  • Clinton 1,771 (54%)
  • Sanders 1,497 (46%)

Clinton must win 32% of remaining pledged delegates to get a majority in pledged delegates

Sanders must win 68% of remaining pledged delegates to get a majority in pledged delegates

In overall delegates (pledged + super), Clinton holds an overall lead of 762 delegates

Clinton must win 9% of remaining delegates to reach 2,383 magic number

Sanders must win 91% of remaining delegates to reach 2,383 magic number

Trump addresses the NRA

NBC’s Alex Jaffe previews Donald Trump’s speech today to the National Rifle Association. “Donald Trump will have another chance to reassure wary conservatives still reluctant to back a candidate who once expressed support for an assault weapons ban and contributed to anti-gun Democrats when he speaks at the National Rifle Association’s national convention Friday. Since expressing support for the ban and a longer waiting period for gun purchases in 2000, Trump’s done an about-face on the issue. He’s since called gun bans ‘a total failure,’ opposed an expansion of background checks and called for concealed carry permits to be valid across all 50 states. He’s also vowed to eliminate gun-free zones in schools and on military bases on his first day in office, and never fails to emphasize the importance of the Second Amendment during a stump speech.

This doesn’t inspire confidence in the Trump campaign

After earlier having a California delegate who was a white nationalist (and who now won’t be attending the convention), the Trump campaign yesterday facedthis news: “A Maryland man selected to be a delegate for Donald Trump has been indicted on charges of child pornography as well as the illegal possession of a machine gun and the illegal transportation of explosives. The Department of Justice announced Thursday that Caleb Andrew Bailey of Waldorf, Maryland, had been indicted by a federal grand jury. He is charged with using a minor to produce child pornography for a period of time from March 2015 to January 2016, as well as with possessing child pornography.” The Trump campaign released this statement, “We strongly condemn these allegations and leave it in the capable hands of law enforcement,” spokesman Hope Hicks said Thursday. “He will be replaced immediately.” The question is whether these kinds of stories are residual problems from the pre-Manafort days, or if they’re still ongoing problems.

On the trail

As mentioned above, Donald Trump addresses the NRA Leadership Forum in Louisville, KY at 12:30 pm ET… Bernie Sanders campaigns in New Mexico…And Bill Clinton stumps in North Dakota and Montana. 

Donald Trump

First Read: Why calling Trump 'risky' won't work for Democrats