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Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) delivers remarks during a primary election night party at the Radisson hotel Feb. 9, 2016 in Manchester, N.H. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Team Rubio has a plan: lose primaries, win nomination

02/11/16 09:24AM

As results from the New Hampshire primary were still being tallied, Marco Rubio's communications director urged Jeb Bush to drop out of the race in order to prevent Donald Trump's nomination. As Team Rubio sees it, the Republican "establishment" should simply rally behind the Florida senator, and Jeb stubbornly stands in the way.
 
It's a common refrain from Rubio, but it's also kind of hilarious -- because in this week's high-profile primary, Bush beat Rubio. The senator, who polls showed finishing second, actually came in fifth. The former governor narrowly edged past him for a fourth-place finish.
 
In other words, Team Rubio's pitch is, "That guy who just beat us should quit, so it'll be easier for us to do better."
 
Wouldn't it be just as easy for Team Jeb to say the same thing about Rubio? Maybe the guy who finished fifth and made himself a national punch-line should get out of the way so that the establishment can consolidate around the candidate who finished ahead of him?
 
New York's Jon Chait noted yesterday, "Before New Hampshire, National Review's Tim Alberta reported that, if Bush finished ahead of Rubio, it might 'prove crippling' to the younger Floridian. That proved prophetic. After Rubio's debate choke, Bush can claim vindication that Rubio is not up to the challenge of a presidential campaign, let alone the presidency."
 
The senator, obviously, doesn't quite see the race this way. But how does Rubio intend to succeed? The Associated Press published a piece this morning that I had to triple check to make sure it wasn't intended as satire.
The best hope of the Republican establishment just a week ago, Marco Rubio suddenly faces a path to his party's presidential nomination that could require a brokered national convention.
 
That's according to Rubio's campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, who told The Associated Press that this week's disappointing performance in New Hampshire will extend the Republican nomination fight for another three months, if not longer. It's a worst-case scenario for Rubio and many Republican officials alike who hoped to avoid a prolonged and painful nomination fight in 2016.
On a flight from New Hampshire to South Carolina yesterday, Rubio's campaign manager sincerely argued, "We very easily could be looking at May -- or the convention. I would be surprised if it's not May or the convention."
 
Oh my.
Republican presidential candidate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gets in his car after a campaign event,, Feb. 6, 2016, in Bedford, N.H. (Photo by Elise Amendola/AP)

As Chris Christie exits, his next move matters

02/11/16 08:42AM

After months in which Chris Christie practically lived in New Hampshire -- he spent more days in the state than any other Republican candidate -- he would have felt good about a third-place finish. The New Jersey governor probably could have been satisfied with the top four. Given the pre-primary polling, even finishing fifth would have likely kept him in the game.
 
But when the dust settled, the Republican governor found himself running sixth in the Granite State, a week after coming in 10th in Iowa. Out of options, and facing exclusion from the next GOP debate, Christie had no choice but to call it quits.
"[W]hile running for president I tried to reinforce what I have always believed - that speaking your mind matters, that experience matters, that competence matters and that it will always matter in leading our nation," he said in a statement to reporters. "That message was heard by and stood for by a lot of people, but just not enough and that's ok."
David Plouffe, perhaps best known for his work as President Obama's 2008 campaign manager, noted yesterday that it's "rare to see the best political athlete" in a presidential race "never get traction." Democrats, Plouffe added, "should breath sigh of relief" that Christie won't be the Republican nominee.
 
There's some truth to that. In the crowded GOP field, Christie probably had the best raw political skills of the bunch -- he's more comfortable on the stump than Jeb Bush, more human than Marco Rubio, more likable than Ted Cruz, more disciplined than John Kasich, and more measured than Donald Trump. There's a reason, as of a couple of years ago, Christie was seen as a likely frontrunner.
 
But a combination of factors made it practically impossible for Christie to get ahead. For example, his poor governing record, low popularity, and ongoing scandals in New Jersey made the governor's "electability" pitch very hard to believe. Making matters worse, Christie's relative moderation led many of the GOP's factions, most notably social conservatives, to write him off entirely.
 
His departure from the race, however, need not be irrelevant.
Rancher Cliven Bundy stands near a metal gate on his 160 acre ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada on May 3, 2014. (Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters)

Cliven Bundy arrested, Oregon standoff nears its end

02/11/16 08:00AM

It's been nearly six weeks since a group of well-armed militants drove to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, took control of its headquarters, and posted guards in camouflage outside. As regular readers know, the militia members, led in part by to Ammon and Ryan Bundy, controversial rancher Cliven Bundy's sons, said they were willing to kill and be killed if necessary in their effort to have federal land turned over to local authorities.
 
As of last night, the standoff appears to be nearly over. Ammon and Ryan Bundy were taken into custody, and late last night, their notorious father was also arrested. The Oregonian reported:
Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who touched off one armed showdown with federal authorities and applauded another started in Oregon by his sons, was arrested late Wednesday at Portland International Airport and faces federal charges related to the 2014 standoff at his ranch. [...]
 
He faces a conspiracy charge to interfere with a federal officer -- the same charge lodged against two of his sons, Ammon and Ryan, for their role in the Jan. 2 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns. He also faces weapons charges. The Bundy Ranch Facebook page reported Cliven Bundy was surrounded by SWAT officers and detained after his arrival from Nevada.
For those needing a refresher, two years ago, there was an armed confrontation between federal law enforcement and Cliven Bundy's well-armed supporters in Nevada. The Obama administration, in the interest of public safety, chose not to escalate matters against the rancher, who claims not to recognize the legitimacy of the United States government, and the underlying dispute went unresolved.
 
Bundy continued to ignore multiple court orders and he still owes the United States more than $1 million after he was fined for grazing on protected land.
 
Last spring, he seemed to realize he was in an unsustainable position. "It's hard to tell, but the feds, they're probably going to do something," Bundy told the L.A. Times. "[T]hey're probably just standing back, looking at things."
 
Not anymore.
 
And speaking of things being over, the standoff in Oregon is likely to wrap up today. NBC News reported overnight:
Sanders' biggest challenge: voter turnout

Sanders' biggest challenge: voter turnout

02/10/16 09:47PM

Jaime Harrison, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, talks with Rachel Maddow about how well Bernie Sanders has been able to establish a political operation in South Carolina, and the demographics Sanders will have to reach. watch

Wednesday's Mini-Report, 2.10.16

02/10/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* More on this in the morning: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will end his presidential bid on Wednesday after a disappointing sixth place finish in the New Hampshire Republican primary, NBC News confirms."
 
* It's impossible to overstate how much is on the line: "The Supreme Court's surprise decision Tuesday to halt President Obama's climate change regulation could weaken or even imperil the international global warming accord reached with great ceremony in Paris less than two months ago, climate diplomats said."
 
* Afghanistan: "The United States Army will deploy hundreds of soldiers to the southern Afghan province of Helmand, where government forces have been pushed to the brink by Taliban militants, a military spokesman said Tuesday."
 
* The "determined to strike" framing sure does ring a bell, doesn't it? "Leaders of the Islamic State are determined to strike targets in the United States this year, senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday, telling lawmakers that a small group of violent extremists will attempt to overcome the logistical challenges of mounting such an attack."
 
* Ferguson, Mo.: "Faced with one of the most monumental decisions in its city's history, the Ferguson City Council voted to attach conditions to a consent decree with the federal government. The move is not sitting well with some of the embattled city's residents – or the Department of Justice."
 
* CDC: "If you want to know how quickly the Zika virus will spread, just look at what happened in Puerto Rico with a related virus, chikungunya, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday."
Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina fields questions from the press following the “happy hour” debate hosted by Fox News at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty)

Carly Fiorina exits stage right

02/10/16 04:01PM

Last night, following another failed primary race, Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina told supporters, "We are going to keep going." Evidently, that wasn't quite true.
Carly Fiorina dropped out of the presidential contest on Wednesday, after scoring just 4 percent of votes in New Hampshire's Republican primary.
 
"While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them," the former Hewlett-Packard executive said in a statement.
Fiorina's full statement is available on her Facebook page. The California Republican ended her candidacy after finishing in seventh place in New Hampshire, picking up about 4% of the vote, which followed a seventh-place finish in Iowa, where she received less than 2% of the vote.
 
For Fiorina, who was seeking the presidency despite never having served in elected office, this was her second attempt in politics, following a failed U.S. Senate campaign in 2010, when she lost by double digits to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).
 
The former tech executive's departure from the race is unlikely to have a significant impact on the overall trajectory of the nominating fight, but let's not forget there was a point not too long ago in which Fiorina looked like she'd be a real contender.

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About The Rachel Maddow Show

Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.

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