Dan Rather, who has covered more than 30 political conventions in his career, talks with Rachel Maddow about the past two week of 2016 convention and the remarkable speech by Khizr Khan, father of Capt. Humayun Khan, last night. watch
Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, talks with Rachel Maddow about whether the Hillary Clinton campaign can reach out to disaffected Republicans and Independents while keeping Democrats, and how Americans' fear of Donald Trump on foreign policy plays into that outreach. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on how the Donald Trump campaign, despite expressing little interest in the Republican Party platform during the GOP convention, did insist on one significant concession to Russia with regard to Ukraine. watch
Rachel Maddow notes that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears to be confused about who he running against after criticizing former Governor Tom Kean about his governing of New Jersey. watch
Rachel Maddow describes the tragic racial history of Philadelphia, Mississippi, the creepily calculated Ronald Reagan campaign stop there in 1980, and the curious visit by Donald Trump, Jr. even though Mississippi is not a risk for Republicans this year. watch
* A pattern seems to be emerging: "The computer network used by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign was hacked as part of a broad cyber attack on Democratic political organizations, people familiar with the matter told Reuters."
* This follows the DCCC news: "Another Democratic Party group confirmed Friday it has been hacked and said the breach was 'similar' to a cyber strike on the Democratic National Committee, which has been blamed on the Russians."
* Maybe congressional Republicans should've taken more of an interest: "Florida's governor says the state has concluded that four mysterious Zika infections likely came from mosquitoes in the Miami area. Gov. Rick Scott said Friday that no mosquitoes in the state have tested positive for Zika. But he says one woman and three men in Miami-Dade and Broward counties likely contracted the virus through mosquito bites."
* Flint, Michigan: "Arrogance and viewing people in Flint as expendable were the motives of six state employees criminally charged Friday over the city's water crisis, Attorney General Bill Schuette said."
* Convention ratings: "With nearly all ratings in across networks, the DNC finale comes in short of the RNC [on the fourth night] -- though averages a much stronger showing over four days."
* A recent Supreme Court ruling seems relevant: "A federal appeals court on Friday refused to drop corruption charges against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), according to The Associated Press. Menendez's attorneys had argued that his actions on behalf of a campaign donor were protected because he's a sitting senator, but the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed."
Voting-rights advocates have had a pretty encouraging month. As discussed the other day, last Tuesday, a federal court issued a ruling mitigating some of the voter-ID restrictions imposed by Wisconsin Republicans. A day later, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals shot down part of Texas’ voter-suppression campaign. By Friday, a federal court issued an injunction blocking a Michigan GOP measure banning straight-ticket voting in the state.
But perhaps no recent ruling is as important as the one handed down this afternoon. MSNBC's Zach Roth, who has a new book out on voting rights, published this report:
A federal appeals court on Friday struck down the heart of a North Carolina voting law seen as the strictest in the nation, finding that Republican lawmakers intentionally discriminated against African-Americans when they passed it.
A divided 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the measure's provisions "target African-Americans with almost surgical precision."
Keep in mind, few states were as brutal in imposing new voting restrictions as North Carolina. Not long after taking office, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) partnered with the state's Republican-run legislature to put all kinds of new hurdles between North Carolinians and the ballot box: Roth's report noted that GOP officials "imposed a voter ID requirement, cut early voting opportunities, eliminated same-day voter registration and banned out-of-precinct voting, among other provisions."
By the state's own admission, these voting restrictions disproportionately affected the state's African-American population.
The 4th Circuit wasn't impressed with North Carolina's brazenness. "The only clear factor linking these various 'reforms' is their impact on African American voters," the appeals court ruling said, adding, "[W]e can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent."
The decision went on to say, "We recognize that elections have consequences, but winning an election does not empower anyone in any party to engage in purposeful racial discrimination."
Both major-party conventions featured grieving family members at various points over the last couple of weeks. The parties saw an opportunity to honor individuals and policy priorities with Americans who've suffered horrible losses, and in general, these appearances carried great emotional weight.
In fact, two of the most memorable speeches of both party gatherings came from parents who lost loved ones abroad.
But that doesn't mean their appearances were the same.
Last week, for example, on the opening night of the Republican National Convention, organizers gave a prominent role to Pat Smith, Benghazi victim Sean Smith's mother. It was a deeply unfortunate display: Smith, still struggling with the kind of pain few of us can imagine, used her time on the stage to repeat discredited conspiracy theories.
"She deserves to be in stripes," Smith said of Clinton, adding, "I personally blame Hillary Clinton for the death of my son." Given the facts, even those presented by congressional Republicans themselves, Smith's remarks were ugly and wrong, and it almost certainly wasn't appropriate for Republican organizers to exploit her grief to peddle conspiratorial nonsense.
A week later in Philadelphia, Khizr Khan, whose son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, died in Iraq at the hands of a terrorist, addressed the Democratic convention. In the process, he delivered one of the most powerful moments of either party gathering.
But wait, conservatives will ask. Why was Smith's appearance worthy of criticism, while Khan's appearance is celebrated? Isn't that hypocritical?
The answer is no. The differences should be obvious.
Nothing has been normal about the 2016 presidential election, so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by the major-party conventions, but few political observers seemed fully prepared for bookend gatherings in which the parties' messages defied all expectations.
The country's two major political parties, emerging from their conventions to square off in the general election, are speaking to Americas unrecognizable to each other in voices that sound like a political and ideological role reversal.
For Republicans, the country is a place of near-apocalyptic gloom whose best days are fast receding.
The GOP's America is a depressing and divided place, facing existential threats around every corner, gripped by "chaos" and a sense of hopelessness. The Democratic America "is a vibrant and diverse place," with a bright future the country can move towards with great confidence.
The gap between the two perceptions is stunning, but so too are the parties' willingness to play against type. Even if you didn't see all of the Democratic convention, you probably picked up on some of the key themes -- patriotism, optimism, family, future, unity -- built around the Clinton campaign's "Stronger Together" slogan.
Vox noted yesterday that Democrats "have stolen the GOP's best rhetoric -- and Republicans have noticed."
I've seen more than a few observers note that, at times, the Democratic convention resembled a Republican convention from years past. Multiple speakers, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, made Reagan references. A retired admiral, noting the Republican nominee's denigration of POWs, said from the stage, "I served in the same Navy as John McCain. I used to vote in the same party as John McCain. Donald, you are not fit to polish John McCain's boots."
In response, Democrats roared with approval -- just as they did when Doug Elmets told attendees last night, "It's an honor to be here. Candidly, it's also a shock -- because, unlike many of you, I'm a Republican. I'm here tonight to say, I knew Ronald Reagan. I worked for Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump, you are no Ronald Reagan."
National Review's Rich Lowry said this week, "American exceptionalism and greatness, shining city on hill, founding documents, etc -- they're trying to take all our stuff."
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* Donald Trump complained on Twitter this morning that Hillary Clinton's convention speech didn't emphasize "the many problems of our country" to his satisfaction. I think he was serious.
* After President Obama obliquely referred to Trump as a "demagogue," Gov. Mike Pence (R), apparently forgetting who his running mate is, complained, "I don't think name calling has any place in public life."
* In Pennsylvania, a Suffolk poll released yesterday showed Hillary Clinton leading Trump, 50% to 41%. With third-party candidates in the mix, Clinton's advantage remains at nine points. (Note, this survey was conducted during the Democratic convention -- which was held in Pennsylvania.)
* The same Suffolk poll shows Katie McGinty (D) with a surprising seven-point lead over incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R), 43% to 36%. Most other recent polling shows Toomey in a better position.
* In Missouri, a Mason-Dixon poll shows Clinton narrowly ahead of Trump, 41% to 40%, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 9%. Missouri is generally considered a safe bet for Republicans, making these results -- in a poll conducted last week -- quite surprising.
* The same poll found incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt (R) with a modest, four-point lead over Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D), 47% to 43%.
* At an appearance in Iowa yesterday, Trump told voters that he was so upset over some of the speakers at the Democratic convention, he wanted to "hit a number of those speakers so hard, their heads would spin." The Republican nominee added, "They'd never recover." I guess that presidential "pivot" hasn't quite begun yet.
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.