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U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks with people at the Peppermill restaurant on Jan. 16, 2015, in Las Vegas.

Vaccinations are the new political wedge issue

02/03/15 04:30PM

The science of vaccinations is very straightforward: They are of tremendous benefit to public health and the common good. But the politics are much trickier -- as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie learned the hard way on Monday, after he said parents should have a measure of choice when it comes to getting their children inoculated.The issue, as it... read more

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Jan. 21, 2015.

Hillary Clinton eyes New York City campaign headquarters

02/02/15 07:46PM

If Hillary Clinton decides to run for president, her campaign is likely to be headquartered in New York City, as opposed to the suburbs where advisors had previously planned, three sources familiar with Clinton’s planning told msnbc.Choosing a new homebase is a key item on Clinton’s to-do list as she prepares for an almost certain presidential... read more

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) delivers the keynote address at an event on October 21, 2014, in Washington, D.C. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty)

Christie stumbles on the politics of vaccinations

02/02/15 12:30PM

During her ill-fated presidential campaign four years ago, then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) denounced the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, arguing that it can lead to mental retardation. Bachmann's claim had no foundation in reality, and the remarks sparked a larger discussion of her habit of saying ridiculous things. The right-wing lawmaker's campaign never recovered.
I mention this to provide some necessary context: those who play politics with vaccinations have a habit of causing trouble for themselves. As Kasie Hunt reports this morning, the new example involves New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday said the government needs to strike a "balance" between public health and parental choice in making decisions about vaccinating kids, even as an outbreak of measles is spreading among unvaccinated people in the United States.
"We vaccinate ours [kids], and so, you know that's the best expression I can give you of my opinion," Christie said when asked if he would urge Americans to vaccinate their children. "You know it's much more important what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official. And that's what we do. But I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well, so that's the balance that the government has to decide."
Maybe there's something about London that causes American Republicans to exercise poor judgment. Last month, it was Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) causing trouble for himself on the other side of the pond; this month, apparently, it's Christie.  [Update: let's also not forget Mitt Romney's misadventures in London.]
There are some important angles to this, but perhaps the most striking is the difference between the New Jersey governor's handling of vaccinations as compared to, say, Ebola. Remember Kaci Hickox?

Scott Walker: Americans are craving 'something new'

01/30/15 03:13PM

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – who emerged this week’s potential presidential candidate du jour following his successful appearance in the early voting state of Iowa – took his message to the nation’s capital on Friday, insisting Americans have a “craving for something new, something  fresh and something dynamic.”The Republican made no mention of... read more

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talks with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as they fly on his campaign plane to Miami Fla., Oct. 31, 2012. (Photo by Charles Dharapak/AP)

Jeb Bush snags top Mitt Romney Iowa strategist David Kochel

01/29/15 05:05PM

Jeb Bush is bringing on David Kochel, the architect of Mitt Romney's 2008 and 2012 Iowa campaigns, as a top strategist, msnbc has confirmed. The hire, initially reported in The New York Times and Des Moines Register, is a sign of the competitive environment Romney faces for staff, donors, and endorsements as he explores a presidential run. read more

Mitt Romney is greeted by fellow Republicans at a dinner during the Republican National Committee's Annual Winter Meeting aboard the USS Midway on Jan. 16, 2015 in San Diego, Calif.

Mitt Romney's Mississippi remarks look like a campaign speech

01/28/15 01:29PM

Mitt Romney is sounding more like a presidential candidate every day. According to excerpts provided to NBC News by aides, the former GOP nominee plans to identify foreign policy, middle class wages, and poverty as his top issues going forward."Following my campaign and the years since, there are three concerns that are foremost in my mind,... read more

David Koch, executive vice president of Koch Industries, attends a meeting, April 11, 2011, in New York, NY. (Photo by Mark Lennihan/AP)

Koch brothers to spend almost $60,000 per hour on 2016 election

01/26/15 06:30PM

The political network led by conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch plans to spend close to a billion dollars on the 2016 elections, the Koch brothers announced at retreat with donors Monday at their annual retreat in the California desert.The $889 million spending goal would pay for everything from advertising, data gathering to... read more

An aide attaches a microphone as U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid sits down for a news conference in his office at the U.S. Capitol in Washington Jan. 22, 2015. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

'Tough S.O.B.' Harry Reid faces biggest test yet

01/26/15 02:08PM

Badly injured, Harry Reid’s political future was left for dead.In early 2009, reeling from the fallout of his comments about Barack Obama’s “light skin” and lack of a “Negro dialect,” polls showed the Senate Majority Leader going the way of Tom Daschle, as he faced revolt both at home and in Washington, and on both right and left.  Just a third... read more

Sarah Palin speaks at the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, IA, Jan. 24, 2015. (Photo by Mark Peterson/MSNBC)

GOP 2016 hopefuls gather in Iowa for Steve King's Freedom Summit

01/24/15 12:40PM

An array of Republican presidential prospects made their opening pitch to conservative activists at the Iowa Freedom Summit on Saturday, setting the stage for a long campaign to win the state’s first-in-the-nation caucus. The event, organized by Iowa Congressman Steve King and conservative advocacy group Citizens United, was the highest profile... read more

Members of American Friends Service Committee protest outside the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, IA, Jan. 24, 2015. (Mark Peterson/MSNBC)

2016 GOP race explodes with flurry of campaign activity

01/24/15 09:21AM

No more speculation and hypotheticals -- the 2016 presidential campaign has arrived.  This weekend alone features an explosion of high-level campaign moves as Republican candidates gathered staff, kowtowed before donors, and prepared to make direct pitches to voters for support.In Des Moines, a long list of possible candidates, including Chris... read more

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with people during a book signing on June 10, 2014 in New York, N.Y. (Photo by Dennis Van Tine/Geisler-Fotopres/picture-alliance/dpa/AP)

Hillary Clinton to present journalism award

01/23/15 04:56PM

Hillary Clinton to give journalism award Former secretary of state and likely presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who has had a rocky relationship with the press in the past, will present a prestigious journalism award March. The Tonor Prize, sponsored by the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, honors the late... read more

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks on stage during day two of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on Sept. 5, 2012 in Charlotte, N.C.

Democrats opt for earlier convention

01/23/15 12:45PM

The Democratic National Committee announced Friday that the party's 2016 presidential nominating convention will be held the week of July 25,  “This is the next step to finalize where and when we will nominate the 45th President of the United States, highlight the Democratic Party’s agenda of fighting  for expanded opportunity and contrast... read more