Wisconsin State Senator Jon Erpenbach talks with Rachel Maddow about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker suspending his presidential campaign after lackluster debate performances, poll numbers approaching zero, and a string of gaffes that raised questions about how he ever got elected in the first place. watch
Rachel Maddow reports that members of Congress have been instructed to give the pope room when he visits Congress on Thursday. Members have been specially appointed to enforce a buffer zone. But between glory seeking members of Congress and a very friendl watch
Nicolle Wallace, Republican strategist, and Beth Fouhy, senior editor for MSNBC.com, talk with Rachel Maddow about what went wrong with Scott Walker's presidential campaign and what his dropping out suggests about the other candidates who are polling at the bottom end of the Republican field. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on the latest revelation about Veterans for a Strong America, the dubious veterans group that hosted a Donald Trump fundraising speech on the USS Iowa. The group's non-profit status was revoked by the IRS and because it also paid no taxes in California, it did not have the legal right to do business in that state at... watch
* Refugees: "The U.S. is offering new details about its plan to ease the Syrian refugee crisis by significantly increasing the number of worldwide refugees it will take in over the next two years. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.S. will accept 85,000 refugees from around the world next year, up from 70,000, and the number will rise to 100,000 in 2017."
* Good move: "A huge overnight price increase for an important tuberculosis drug has been rescinded after the company that had acquired the drug gave it back to its previous owner under pressure."
* An incredible story: "Accused of cheating on emissions standards, Volkswagen saw a massive sell-off of its stock Monday, wiping out $16.9 billion of market value on Monday."
* Gun violence in Alabama: "A man walked into a church service in East Selma, Ala., on Sunday morning and opened fire with a handgun, shooting his 24-year-old girlfriend and their infant son and then the pastor before being disarmed by congregants, according to the police."
* A heartbreaking finding: "More than 20 percent of female undergraduates at an array of prominent universities said this year they were victims of sexual assault and misconduct, echoing findings elsewhere, according to one of the largest studies ever of college sexual violence."
* Nigeria: "Fear of attacks by Boko Haram, the Islamist extremist group of northern Nigeria known for its deadly marauding and kidnappings, has uprooted a half-million children in the past five months, Unicef said in a report released Thursday."
As recently as March, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was the nation's #1 Republican presidential contender. As recently as May, the far-right governor wasn't just leading in Iowa, he was also the only candidate with double-digit support.
A month later, in June, Walker kicked off his national campaign to significant fanfare, and it was easy to see him as a top-tier contender for the GOP nomination -- Walker offered a unique combination of establishment credibility, right-wing appeal, and electoral success. There was ample speculation that the fight might very well come down to Walker and Jeb Bush.
That was in June. Today, Walker's done. NBC News' Chuck Todd confirms:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is set to drop out of the presidential race Monday night, a source close to the campaign confirms to NBC News.
He is scheduled to hold a press conference in Madison, Wisconsin, at 6 p.m. ET to announce his exit from the race.
I've seen some comparisons of late between Walker and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), who also briefly ran in 2012 before watching his support evaporate.
But the similarities are limited. Yes, they're two bland, Midwestern governors, but Pawlenty never really developed a strong base of support and few ever saw him as a frontrunner.
Walker, on the other hand, was widely seen as a powerhouse, who had put all of the pieces in place to compete over the long haul. It makes the Wisconsinite's three-month flameout that much more extraordinary -- few presidential candidates ever make the transition from hero to zero this quickly.
Just over the last year or so, the right has made a concerted effort to hold President Obama responsible for tensions between law enforcement and minority communities. Republican presidential hopefuls and conservative media outlets have even gone to ugly lengths to blame the White House for incidents involving violence towards police officers.
It appears the president has heard the chatter. It also appears that he doesn't care for it.
Obama delivered remarks over the weekend at the Congressional Black Caucus 45th Annual Phoenix Awards Dinner, and he set aside time to make his opinions clear. From the official transcript:
"I want to repeat -- because somehow this never shows up on Fox News. I want to repeat -- because I’ve said it a lot, unwaveringly, all the time: Our law enforcement officers do outstanding work in an incredibly difficult and dangerous job. They put their lives on the line for our safety. We appreciate them and we love them. That’s why my Task Force on 21st Century Policing made a set of recommendations that I want to see implemented to improve their safety, as well as to make sure that our criminal justice system is being applied fairly. Officers show uncommon bravery in our communities every single day. They deserve our respect. [...]
"So I just want to repeat, because somehow this never gets on the TV: There is no contradiction between us caring about our law enforcement officers and also making sure that our laws are applied fairly. Do not make this as an either/or proposition. This is a both/and proposition. We want to protect our police officers. We’ll do a better job doing it if our communities can feel confident that they are being treated fairly. I hope I’m making that clear. I hope I’m making that clear."
In the last national election cycle, the Republican losses obviously counted, but so too did the way in which they lost. GOP candidates, party officials later acknowledged, were catering to an increasingly narrow part of the population. The Republican Party's base was getting older, whiter, and male-dominated.
Steve Schmidt, who served as Republican Sen. John McCain’s top strategist in the 2008 presidential election, said it’s problematic for the GOP to be seen as intolerant, particularly with moderate voters who help sway the general election.
“Of course it’s worrisome if you have a party that’s perceived as anti-Latino, anti-Asian, anti-gay, intolerant of Muslims,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt's correct that the party's problems are exacerbated by perceptions of intolerance and exclusivity, and this doesn't just alienate Latinos, Asians, Muslims, and the LGBT community. It also has the effect of pushing away white mainstream voters who start to see Republicans as wildly out of step with a diverse, modern nation.
On Friday, for example, President Obama nominated Eric Fanning as the next Secretary of the Army. No one has questioned Fanning's qualifications, but GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee condemned the nomination because Fanning is gay. "It's clear President Obama is more interested in appeasing America's homosexuals than honoring America's heroes," the Republican said, adding, "Homosexuality is not a job qualification. The U.S. military is designed to keep Americans safe and complete combat missions, not conduct social experiments."
It's an "Archie Bunker" posture in a "Modern Family" world.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* Hillary Clinton addressed the refugee crisis in more detail yesterday, telling CBS, “We’re facing the worst refugee crisis since World War II, and I think the United States has to do more. And I would like to see us move from what is a good start with 10,000 to 65,000, to begin immediately to put into place the mechanisms for vetting the people that we would take in."
* Jeb Bush told a Republican audience over the weekend that he believes President Obama is an American and a Christian. My fear is this is what passes for GOP moderation in 2015.
* Late last week, Donald Trump's campaign released a position paper called, "Protecting Our Second Amendment Rights Will Make America Great Again." The document calls for vastly expanded gun rights and appears to have been written by leading officials at the NRA.
* Trump also said late last week that he's prepared to spend at least $100 million on his presidential bid.
* Just before the deadline, Rand Paul's political operation gave the Republican Party of Kentucky $250,000 to finance the state GOP's presidential caucus on March 5. To appreciate why this is important, take a look at our coverage from last month.
* The Maine Republican Party announced over the weekend that it will hold its presidential caucus the same day, March 5 (thanks to my colleague Laura Conaway for the heads-up).
* After some poorly worded comments about Latinos last week, John Kasich clarified yesterday, "Look, if I have to be clear about it, I’m just trying to say that in the course of a presidential campaign I’m glad I don’t move so fast that I ignore people and my views on our Hispanic friends across this country have been very positive. They have been impactful in so many ways.”
When Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) recently announced his belief that the federal Department of Education shouldn't exist, it almost seemed like a cliche. Republican presidential candidates have, for quite a while, talked about scrapping various cabinet agencies, with Commerce and Education nearly always topping the list.
What's far more interesting is when national GOP candidates think outside the box. Ben Carson, for example, recently made the case for eliminating the Department of Veterans Affairs -- a position that did not endear the right-wing neurosurgeon to veterans' advocates.
BuzzFeed, meanwhile, reports that Rick Santorum wants to abolish the State Department.
Santorum made the comment in an interview with radio host Glenn Beck, who told the former senator from Pennsylvania that he was hoping to hear the party’s 2016 contenders call for everyone at the State Department to be fired.
“I have said that,” Santorum replied. “I said that when I ran four years ago — the first thing I’d do is abolish the State Department and start all over.”
The fact that Santorum wants to eliminate the State Department -- created in 1789 as the first U.S. cabinet agency -- is itself foolish. But to appreciate just how ridiculous this position is, consider his misguided reasoning.
The latest CNN poll of Republican voters found something we haven't seen in months: Donald Trump's GOP support going down, not up. As it turns out, CNN polled Democrats nationally and found something equally interesting: Hillary Clinton's support going up, not down.
Hillary Clinton's lead in the Democratic presidential primary race has grown -- and if Vice President Joe Biden decides to stay out of the race, her numbers would rise even higher, a new CNN/ORC poll shows.
Clinton is backed by 42% of Democratic primary voters nationally, compared to 24% for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 22% for Biden and 1% for former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.
That's a marked improvement over an early September CNN/ORC poll that found Clinton leading Sanders, 37% to 27%, with Biden at 20%.
Looking back over the last four months, there had been a consistent trend: Clinton's top-line support among Democrats nationally had steadily gotten smaller, while Sanders' support had grown.
That is, until today's results were released. To appreciate the shift, consider this in chart form:
It's generally wise for candidates to avoid rhetoric they might regret later. Last week, for example, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was asked about his strategy for the coming months. “I think we’re putting all our eggs in the basket of Iowa," the GOP presidential candidate said.
The problem should be obvious: if Walker comes up short in Iowa, he's done. The governor is setting his own benchmark for success, which is an inherently risky game to play.
Similarly, Sen. Rand Paul was on "Face the Nation" yesterday, where host John Dickerson asked about voters' "appetite for outsiders." Dickerson asked what the senator believes accounts for these attitudes. The senator replied:
"Well, you know, I ran for office because I was unhappy about Washington and I still am. The more I see of Washington, the more unhappy I am of how thing are dysfunctional and don't work. I'm a huge proponent of term limits. I would throw everybody out, myself included. I'm serious."
You could almost hear Democratic ad-makers, getting ready to make a series of 30-second spots in which Rand Paul declares, on national television, "I would throw everybody out, myself included. I'm serious."
At last week's Republican debate, Carly Fiorina described a Planned Parenthood video showing “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, 'We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’”
First, the GOP candidate insisted the day after the debate that she "didn’t misspeak," adding, “I have seen those images.” Of course, Fiorina couldn't have seen those images, because there are no such images.
Later, Vox's Sarah Kliff asked the Fiorina campaign to back up her claim with evidence. The Republican staffers tried, but failed, to substantiate the claims. Even the right-wing group that released the videos can't bolster the Republican presidential hopeful.
Yesterday, Fiorina appeared on "Fox News Sunday," where host Chris Wallace tried to lead Fiorina to acknowledge reality. From the Nexis transcript:
WALLACE: First of all, do you acknowledge what every fact checker has found, that as horrific as that scene is, it was only described on the video by someone who claimed to have seen it? There is no actual footage of the incident that you just mentioned?
FIORINA: No, I don't accept that at all. I've seen the footage. And I find it amazing, actually, that all these supposed fact-checkers in the mainstream media claim this doesn't exist. They're trying to attack the authenticity of the videotape.
Actually, they're not. The fact-checkers examined Fiorina's claim and concluded that it's the opposite of reality. Offered multiple opportunities to substantiate the claim with evidence, Fiorina and her aides have offered nothing. The authenticity of the tapes is a separate question altogether.
The more the Republican says, "I've seen the footage," the more we're reminded there is no such footage.
Americans can learn a lot about presidential candidates by reviewing their records and proposals, but how they respond to challenges tells us something important, too. In this case, a candidate for national office was caught saying something that was plainly untrue, which in turn created a test of sorts. How would Carly Fiorina defend a lie? What would her defense tell us about her readiness for national office?
One of Jeb Bush's root challenges as a presidential candidate is, rightly or wrongly, his last name. He's the son of an unsuccessful, one-term president, and the brother of a failed, two-term president whose errors and incompetence created disastrous messes we're still cleaning up.
For a while, the former Florida governor tried to overcome the problem by frequently telling voters, "I am my own man." It was, however, a tough sell -- Jeb relied on fundraising appeals written by his high-profile family relatives, and surrounded himself with his family's team of policy advisers and donors.
Over the weekend, Jeb spoke at a conference in Michigan for Republican activists and donors, where he abandoned his previous posture altogether. TPM reported:
Bush said that the U.S. might have a better relationship with Iran, Cuba and Burma, but said that ties with countries in the Middle East and Israel have worsened under the Obama administration. The former governor said that he would improve relations with other countries as president.
"I know how to do this because, yes, I am a Bush," he said, according to CNN. "I happened to see two really good presidents develop relationships with other countries."
The New York Timesadded that the GOP candidate "said that he considered being related to two presidents to be one of his qualifications."
For one thing, George W. Bush was not a "good president" who "developed relationships with other countries." On the contrary, during the Bush/Cheney era, the United States' reputation, standing, and credibility around the globe faltered terribly. It's President Obama who's helped repair much of the damage.
For another, Jeb Bush's clumsiness on his family legacy is getting a little embarrassing. He can say he's his "own man," or he can say he'd be a good president because of his last name, but when he makes both arguments at the same time, even the most sycophantic Bush supporters are going to notice the contradiction.
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.