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Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson gives acceptance speech during National Convention held at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Fla., May 29, 2016. (Photo by Kevin Kolczynski/Reuters)

Gary Johnson isn't doing himself any favors

09/23/16 10:10AM

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson spoke at a Bloomberg Politics event this week, where he made quite an impression. If you watch this clip, note the part in which Johnson, a former Republican governor, makes a strange face and starts shaking his chair for reasons that aren't altogether clear.

This week, Johnson also sat down with NBC News' Kasie Hunt, and during the interview, the presidential candidate apparently thought it'd be funny if he spoke -- for a surprisingly long time -- with his tongue out. As the video shows, Hunt seemed baffled, as any normal person would be.

The clips are a reminder of Johnson's unusual position as a presidential hopeful right now. On the one hand, polls show the former governor doing quite well for an underfunded Libertarian, and this year he'll be the first third-party candidate to appear on the ballot in all 50 states since Ross Perot in 1996.

On the other hand, Johnson isn't exactly taking full advantage of the opportunity he's been given. It's not just the goofy persona, either -- this week, the national candidate said how relieved he was that "nobody got hurt" when a bomb exploded in New York and a man with a knife attacked people in a Minnesota mall. In reality, dozens of people were injured in the incidents.

Stories like these don't help, either.
Peter Schulman of Mother Jones has found a remarkable video from 2011 where Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson dismissed concerns about climate change because, countless generations from now, the earth will be destroyed. As Johnson explained to the National Press Club in 2012, "In billions of years the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the Earth, right? So global warming is in our future."

As Schulman notes, this absurd argument is in keeping with Johnson's general opposition to doing anything about climate change.
This is the guy many young, liberal voters are gravitating towards?
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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton pauses while speaking during the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Gala on Sept. 15, 2016 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty)

Latest polls show Clinton hanging on after rough patch

09/23/16 09:20AM

Last week wasn't exactly easy for Hillary Clinton and her campaign team. The Democratic presidential hopeful got pneumonia; she and her aides didn't handle the disclosure well; there was an embarrassing video of Clinton feeling ill at a 9/11 event; and much of the political conversation focused on her criticism of Donald Trump's most racist and "deplorable" supporters.

Clinton, off the trail for a few days, saw the polls tighten and her odds of success fall. There was a renewed sense that Trump had a credible chance of becoming president after all.

With this in mind, it's likely some Democrats are breathing just a little easier in light of the latest national polling. For example, a new McClatchy/Marist poll, out this morning, has the race shaping up this way:

Hillary Clinton: 45%
Donald Trump: 39%
Gary Johnson: 10%
Jill Stein: 4%

In a head-to-head match-up, Clinton's lead in this poll is seven points, 48% to 41%.

The results are largely in line with the latest national Associated Press poll, which was also released this morning, and which also shows Clinton with a six-point advantage over her Republican rival in a four-way contest.

All of this also coincides with the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, released late Wednesday, which was nearly identical to the McClatchy/Marist results. Taken together, that's three major national polls over the last three days -- conducted after last week's difficulties for the former Secretary of State -- each of which found Clinton leading Trump by six points, even with the third-party candidates in the mix.

As for the overall averages, the major poll aggregators now point to Clinton ahead by three or four points. That's hardly an overwhelming advantage, but after hitting last week's rough patch, it's likely the Democratic campaign is relieved to be leading at all.
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Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., speaks during a news conference on Feb. 26, 2014.

A big step backward for the GOP's African-American outreach

09/23/16 08:40AM

After the 2012 elections, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus made a concerted effort to overhaul his party's outreach to the African-American community. He couldn't offer much in the way of substance, and he couldn't point to any policy shifts in his party's agenda, but Priebus nevertheless showed real effort, hoping to make new inroads among black voters.

As of last night, it became hard not to imagine Priebus watching the news and smacking his forehead.

Let's put aside, at least for now, the latest missteps on race from the Republican presidential nominee and his running mate, and instead focus on some other GOP officials who made headlines over the last 24 hours for their own racially charged rhetoric.

In Ohio, for example, Kathy Miller, a county chair for the Trump campaign, told The Guardian there was "no racism" during the 1960s; the Black Lives Matter movement is "stupid"; and there was no racism in the United States "until Obama got elected." She added, "If you're black and you haven't been successful in the last 50 years, it's your own fault. You've had every opportunity, it was given to you.... You had all the advantages and didn't take advantage of it. It's not our fault, certainly."

Miller resigned her post yesterday afternoon, right around the time Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.) shared some thoughts of his own about race during a BBC interview.
"The grievance in their mind is the animus, the anger," Pittenger told the program, referring to the protesters in Charlotte. "They hate white people because white people are successful and they're not."

The comments sparked an immediate backlash, with fellow North Carolina Congressman G.K. Butterfield -- a Democrat -- calling the remarks "disgusting" and "appalling."
On Twitter, the far-right Republican congressman expressed "regret" for his on-air comments, saying they didn't "reflect" his true beliefs. "My intent was to discuss the lack of economic mobility for African Americans because of failed policies," Pittenger said, adding, "I apologize to those I offended."

Hmm. So the congressman was trying to condemn progressive investments in struggling communities, and he somehow ended up saying protesters in Charlotte "hate white people because white people are successful."
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Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence speaks at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Ariz., Aug. 31, 2016. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Trump's running mate: Talk of racism, police should end

09/23/16 08:00AM

Donald Trump's presidential campaign is clearly aware of this week's tragedies in Tulsa and Charlotte. But as this NBC News report suggests, the Republican ticket's reaction to the developments may not be entirely constructive.
GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence called on the country to end debate about "institutional racism" among law enforcement officers as protests in Charlotte flared this week following the shooting of another black man by a police officer.

"We ought to set aside this talk, this talk about institutional racism and institutional bias," Pence said during a roundtable with pastors in a Colorado Springs church on Thursday afternoon.
According to the Associated Press' report, the far-right Indiana governor also said, "Donald Trump and I both believe that there's been far too much of this talk of institutional bias or racism in law enforcement."

In fairness, Pence also reportedly acknowledged, in his best passive voice, that "mistakes are made" in law enforcement, and he agrees that "people have to be held to strict account." Trump's running mate added that "there will be a thorough investigation and that justice will be served and high standards will be upheld."

But this doesn't negate the fact that Pence nevertheless wants less "talk about institutional racism and institutional bias" in law enforcement. Evidently, according to the GOP's vice presidential nominee, the problems might improve if we'd only agree to end conversations about them.

One of the striking aspects of this is how much further Pence is going than the usual response from many conservatives.
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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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