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Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a rally at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, May 2, 2016. (Photo by Michael Conroy/AP)

Indiana leaves Trump in control as Cruz exits stage right

05/04/16 08:00AM

On April 5, one month ago tomorrow, Ted Cruz easily won the Wisconsin presidential primary, leading the Texas senator to declare that the race for the Republican nomination was on an entirely new trajectory.
 
Indeed, a month ago, there were certain things much of the political world simply accepted as fact. Everyone knew there would be a contested GOP national convention. Everyone knew Cruz's advantage at state conventions was likely to pay dividends. And everyone knew the Texan was in this for the long haul.
 
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ended his presidential campaign on Tuesday after failing to top Donald Trump in the Indiana Republican primary.
 
"From the beginning, I've said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory," Cruz told supporters at an election night rally in Indianapolis. "Tonight, I'm sorry to say it appears that path has been foreclosed."
The senator's campaign went all out to win Indiana -- a state Team Cruz saw as friendly territory, and where polls showed him ahead a month ago -- but he ended up losing by nearly 17 points. Cruz could have turned the next couple of months into some kind of vanity exercise, dragging out the process unnecessarily, but given the arithmetic, the Texan no longer saw the point of waging a fight with a predetermined outcome.
 
Also note, adding Carly Fiorina to the ticket for a week was not the silver bullet Team Cruz was looking for. The California Republican is now the only candidate to seek national office twice in 2016, only to fail spectacularly both times.
 
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus agreed last night that Trump is now the party's "presumptive" presidential nominee -- a message he couldn't have enjoyed writing -- which seems like the appropriate label. John Kasich's campaign was quick to protest, but the fact remains that the Ohio governor is still trailing Marco Rubio in the overall delegate count, and Rubio quit in mid-March.
 
Kasich, in other words, is running fourth in a three-man race, which makes it difficult for him to complain about the RNC's embrace of Trump.
 
We'll talk about Trump's road ahead a little later, but let's first take a moment to consider Cruz as he exits the stage.
The path to 'President Trump'

The path to 'President Trump' turns GOP plan on its head

05/03/16 10:07PM

Steve Kornacki shows how Donald Trump will likely pursue a general election strategy of winning upper-Midtwest industrial states with large white populations rather than follow the Republican plan devised after their 2012 loss that looked to expand the party's appeal to Latino voters. watch

Trump perhaps most surprised of all

Trump perhaps most surprised of all

05/03/16 09:35PM

Nicolle Wallace, Republican strategist, talks about the low expectations Donald Trump had for his own chances of winning the Republican nomination when his campaign first began, and how he was motivated by his loss in Wisconsin. watch

Trump candidacy shakes up political...

Trump candidacy shakes up political alignments

05/03/16 08:16PM

Steve Schmidt, Republican strategist, talks with an MSNBC panel about the challenge Donald Trump faces to heal the political rift within the Republican Party, and the opportunity that presents to Hillary Clinton to draw some bipartisan support. watch

Trump can't resist a conspiracy theory: Todd

Trump can't resist a conspiracy theory: Todd

05/03/16 06:52PM

Chuck Todd, NBC News political director, talks with an MSNBC panel about Donald Trump's apparently inclination to indulge conspiracy theories, including today's National Enquirer report about Ted Cruz's father and Lee Harvey Oswald, and whether that interest could cost him politically. watch

Tuesday's Mini-Report, 5.3.16

05/03/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Iraq: "An American serviceman died in an ISIS attack in northern Iraq, U.S. officials said Tuesday. Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said the U.S. serviceman was advising and assisting Kurdish Peshmerga forces north of Mosul when ISIS fighters attacked."
 
* New York: "Sheldon Silver, who rose from the Lower East Side of Manhattan to become one of the state's most powerful and feared politicians as speaker of the New York Assembly, was sentenced on Tuesday to 12 years in prison in a case that came to symbolize Albany's culture of graft."
 
* Turkey: "Members of Turkey's governing AK party and pro-Kurdish politicians have traded blows in parliament over plans to strip MPs of their immunity from prosecution. The brawl erupted as a committee met to discuss the government-backed changes to the constitution. Some parliamentarians launched themselves into the melee from a table, others threw water or aimed punches."
 
* It'd be a good thing if Congress were able to govern responsibly: "Hours before Puerto Rico missed hundreds of millions of dollars of bond payments, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Monday issued a new and urgent call for Congress to pass legislation allowing the territory to restructure the $72 billion it owes to creditors."
 
* Climate crisis: "As India, the world's second-most populous country, reels from an intense drought, the World Bank has released a new report finding that perhaps the most severe impact of a changing climate could be the effect on water supplies."
 
* Alabama: "The Oxford City Council has scheduled a special meeting Wednesday 'to discuss potentially recalling' an ordinance making it a crime to use a public restroom different from the gender on a person's birth certificate."
 
* What could possibly go wrong? "Full-time employees at Tennessee's public colleges and universities can now carry handguns on campus under a bill that became law Monday, although without the governor's signature."
Donald "Don" Blankenship, former chief executive officer of Massey Energy Co., center, and his attorney, left, exit the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse in Charleston, W. Va., on Dec. 3, 2015. (Photo by Calvin Mattheis/Bloomberg/Getty)

A familiar face joins an anti-Clinton protest in West Virginia

05/03/16 04:20PM

With a week remaining before West Virginia's Democratic presidential primary, it wasn't too surprising to see Hillary Clinton make an appearance in the state over the weekend. Similarly, it didn't come as a shock to see Donald Trump supporters and coal-industry workers hold a protest outside of Clinton's visit at the Williamson Wellness and Health Clinic in Mingo County.
 
What was surprising, however, was one of the people who joined the protest. The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported:
More than 100 protesters stood in the pouring rain on the corner of Second Avenue and Pike Street, holding umbrellas over their Donald Trump signs, chanting about coal and booing Clinton. Even former Massey Energy Co. CEO Don Blankenship, a Mingo County resident who has been sentenced to a year in prison for conspiring to violate mine safety laws, made an appearance in the crowd.
 
Blankenship was a dominant player in West Virginia politics for years, donating millions of dollars to Republican causes and politicians. His former political aides and operatives continue to play an outsize role in state Republican politics.
 
Approached by a Gazette-Mail reporter for an interview, Blankenship responded, "Are you joking?"
As a general rule, presidential candidates don't enjoy being confronted with angry protestors, and I can imagine Clinton was uncomfortable at times facing the crowd's jeers and insults.
 
But Blankenship's role arguably makes this one of those rare instances in which a candidate is actually delighted to see a critic. After all, if there's one person in West Virginia whose hatred a Democratic presidential hopeful would welcome, it's Don Blankenship.
Sen. Ted Cruz speaks with Donald Trump during a Tea Party Patriots rally against the Iran nuclear deal on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sept. 9, 2015. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Bloomberg/Getty)

Cruz no longer believes all that nice stuff he said about Trump

05/03/16 02:54PM

It might be easier to believe Ted Cruz's latest condemnations of Donald Trump if Cruz hadn't spent months saying the exact opposite.
Ted Cruz went on a blistering ramble against Donald Trump on Tuesday, delivering a list of stinging personal attacks that included calling the GOP front-runner a "serial philanderer," "pathological liar" and a "narcissist." [...]
 
"This man is a pathological liar. He doesn't know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth," Cruz told reporters in Evansville, Indiana.
To the extent that facts still matter, Cruz's criticisms are rooted in fact. The senator is obviously feeling desperate, and working from the assumption that a furious tirade late in the process might help his floundering candidacy, but that doesn't mean his attacks are incorrect.
 
The problem, rather, is what Cruz used to say about Trump.

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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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