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Wednesday's Mini-Report, 10.12.16

10/12/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* This keeps happening: "A U.S. Navy destroyer was targeted on Wednesday in a failed missile attack from territory in Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, the second such incident in the past four days, U.S. officials told Reuters."

* Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf "is retiring as chairman and CEO of the bank, effective immediately, Dow Jones reported on Wednesday citing a source."

* Russia isn't denying the allegations anymore: "The Federal Bureau of Investigation suspects Russian intelligence agencies are behind the recent hacking of the emails of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman and of a contractor handling Florida voter data, according to people briefed on the investigations."

* On a related note: "The White House vowed to hit Russia with a 'proportional' response after the conclusion by U.S. intelligence officials that Moscow hacked into emails from the Democratic National Committee and other organizations, then leaked thousands of files to interfere with the outcome of the presidential election."

* The death toll in the state has reached 19: "As North Carolina struggles with the deadly aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, forecasters Wednesday warned that rain-fed waters were still on the rise in some areas -- with at least one river expected to crest this weekend at nearly double the flood stage."
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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrives on stage for a rally at Mohegan Sun Arena, Oct. 10, 2016, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty)

Team Trump highlights map with male-only electorate

10/12/16 04:44PM

In recent decades, the "gender gap" has become one of the defining and enduring characteristics of American elections, with women more likely to support Democrats and men more likely to support Republicans. In the 2012 election, for example, President Obama earned 55% support from women voters, while Mitt Romney received 52% of men voters.

Over the last quarter-century, men have only supported the Democratic candidate twice, while women haven't supported the Republican candidate at all.

This year, of course, it's likely the gap will reach new and unprecedented extremes, with Donald Trump alienating women so dramatically, at times it seems he's trying to lose. With that in mind, FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver published an interesting item yesterday, noting what the electoral map would look like if only women voted. In short, it'd a landslide: Hillary Clinton would win with 458 electoral votes. Naturally, the inverse is also true: Nate also posted a comparable electoral map showing that Trump would win with 350 electoral votes if only men voted.

As BuzzFeed noted, the twist came this morning when Eric Trump sent an email to his father's supporters, asking for money, and featuring the male-only map as proof of Donald Trump's "momentum."
"As one of the most dedicated grassroots leaders in the country you know, momentum matters," the email, sent on behalf of the Trump campaign, reads. "And right now all the momentum is on our side."

Trump called on supporters to donate money to help fund aggressive ad blitzes and "get-out-and-vote operations."
Eric Trump said prospective donors could see for themselves the Republican campaign's "huge gains" by looking at the featured map -- neglecting to mention that the image shows the American electoral excluding women entirely.

It's not just the fact that Team Trump is lying; it's how Team Trump is lying that's extraordinary.
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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during their presidential town hall debate at Washington University, Oct. 9, 2016, in St. Louis, Mo. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Trump may not believe it, but the latest polls favor Clinton

10/12/16 12:50PM

On Fox News last night, host Bill O'Reilly told Donald Trump, "You're behind with women," though the Republican candidate was incredulous, replying, "I'm not sure I believe that." O'Reilly reminded his guest, "Whether you believe it or not, that's what the polling says."

It was a funny moment, but the Republican campaign's discomfort with the latest polling isn't limited to the candidate. On CNN last night, Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager, talked to Anderson Cooper about the latest data.
CONWAY: My goodness, why is this woman at 46 percent? She's like the magic 46. She's 46 percent in the new NBC News Wall Street Journal poll, she's 46 percent in a lot of the swing states --

COOPER: She's ahead of your candidate, though.... [Y]ou're saying 46 percent is bad, but 37 percent is worse.
As a quantifiable matter, that seems hard to deny. In fact, it's a little odd for a presidential ticket's campaign manager to effectively tell a national television audience, "The other candidate who's beating us should probably be ahead by a larger margin."

Then again, I'm not sure what more Trump and his aides should say that would be more persuasive. The latest polls point to a Republican campaign with very little to brag about.
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Wednesday's Campaign Round-Up, 10.12.16

10/12/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.

* A federal judge this morning extended Florida's voter-registration deadline to Tuesday, Oct. 18. Gov. Rick Scott (R) had denied requests to extend the date to accommodate those affected by Hurricane Matthew.

* In the latest Donald Trump controversy, BuzzFeed reports that four women "who competed in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant" said Trump walked into the dressing room while contestants were changing. Some were as young as 15 at the time.

* Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), one of the most ardent social conservatives in Congress, said this morning on Twitter, "Given the stakes of this election, if Paul Ryan isn't for Trump, then I'm not for Paul Ryan." (For the record, Ryan still endorses Trump, and by all appearances, intends to vote for him.)

* On a related note, Donald Trump told Fox News last night that if he's elected president, Paul Ryan may no longer remain as Speaker of the House. "Maybe he'll be in a different position," the presidential candidate said.

* It's not just Paul Ryan; Trump is also lashing out directly at Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in ways that may affect the senator's re-election bid.

* Some Republican megadonors who've contributed to Trump's campaign are starting to ask for their money back.

* Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has decided to stick with his support for Trump's candidacy, as have Wisconsin's Ron Johnson (R) and Indiana's Todd Young (R), both of whom are in tough Senate races this year.

* Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), however, appears to be the only Republican senator on the ballot this year who refuses to tell voters which presidential candidate he supports. As of this morning, the Republican incumbent may very well keep his preference secret through Election Day.
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Pastors from the Las Vegas area pray with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a visit to the International Church of Las Vegas, and International Christian Academy on Oct. 5, 2016, in Las Vegas, Nev. (Photo by Evan Vucci/AP)

After Trump, will the religious right movement ever recover?

10/12/16 11:28AM

Harvest Bible Chapel's James MacDonald, a megachurch leader and a member of Donald Trump's evangelical council, could hardly contain his disgust on Saturday after learning about the candidate's 2005 comments about women.

"Mr. Trump's comments released yesterday -- though 10 years ago (he was 60) -- are not just sophomoric or locker room banter," MacDonald wrote in an email. "They are truly the kind of misogynistic trash that reveals a man to be lecherous and worthless -- not the guy who gets politely ignored, but the guy who gets a punch in the head from worthy men who hear him talk that way about women."

So, MacDonald was resigning from his role on Team Trump? The pastor was severing his ties to a man who'd proven himself "lecherous and worthless"? Actually, no. MacDonald was upset, but not enough to withdraw his support for Trump's candidacy.

There's a lot of this going around. A wide variety of Evangelical Christian leaders and power players in the religious right movement have said they weren't pleased with the latest Trump revelations, but they're devoted to the GOP nominee anyway. Indeed, by some measures, the Christian Right's leaders have stuck with Trump in greater numbers than congressional Republicans.

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank had a good piece today on the potential consequences:
Trump is creating a lot of wreckage as his campaign founders.... One of Trump's victims is likely to be the religious conservative political movement, as many of its leaders have averted their gaze from Trump's misogyny, hoping ends justify means. [...]

These religious political leaders' continued support of Trump undermines their claims to speak for traditional morality.
I've lost count of how many times the religious right movement's obituary has been written prematurely, but it's nevertheless reasonable to wonder what will become of the Christian Right after 2016.
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History mandates presidential candidates release tax returns, but not how many

Team Trump offers a case study in how not to debate tax policy

10/12/16 10:53AM

When it comes to the presidential campaign and taxes, much of the focus has been on controversies surrounding Donald Trump's secret tax returns and the evidence that he's exploited loopholes to lower his federal tax bills to zero. But let's not forget the fact that both of the major-party candidates have unveiled tax policy proposals, which say a great deal about their priorities.

About a month ago, for example, the Republican ticket unveiled a new tax plan -- Trump's third attempt at getting this right -- which quickly fell apart under scrutiny. The numbers didn't add up; the blueprint was demonstrably dishonest and contradictory; and by some independent estimates, the GOP candidate's proposal would actually raise taxes on the middle class while delivering a windfall for the rich.

Yesterday, the Tax Policy Center released a report on Trump's latest plan and gave it a price tag of $7.2 trillion -- more than double the cost of the Bush/Cheney plan. As Vox noted, the same analysis found that the Republican's blueprint "is even more tilted toward the rich than Trump's first plan."

So far, all of this probably seems pretty predictable. The funny part, however, was the written response from the Trump campaign.
"The Clinton Official-led Tax Policy Center has wasted everyone's time with a fraudulent analysis after admitting they had a software bug that prevented them from scoring the plan's economic effects. Moreover, the TPC was privately informed they had modeled the wrong plan -- not ours -- but refused to correct their extremely embarrassing error and model our plan.

"For instance, our plan has explicit safeguards to keep hedge funds from abusing the business rate -- it's Hillary who plans secret benefits for Wall Street, not us. In other words, this article isn't even about the Trump plan -- but about the gross malfeasance of the deeply-biased Tax Policy Center. The Trump plan is revenue neutral, massively cuts middle-class taxes, and has huge benefits for low and middle-income families. The Clinton plan, as released by WikiLeaks, is 'open borders,' Medicare and Social Security cuts, and benefits only for Wall Street."
This was written by Trump's national policy director, Stephen Miller, who is not to be confused with "John Miller," the weird alter-ego Trump came up with for himself so he could pretend to be his own publicist while talking to reporters.
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Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore campaign together at the Miami Dade College - Kendall Campus, Theodore Gibson Center on Oct. 11, 2016 in Miami, Fla. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty)

By focusing on substance, Clinton creates stark campaign contrasts

10/12/16 10:12AM

Yesterday was unusually instructive when it came to learning about the major-party presidential candidates. Donald Trump, for example, declared that he'd removed his "shackles" in the morning; attacked ostensible Republican allies in the afternoon; and wrapped things up with a Fox News interview last night, in which the GOP nominee complained about his opponent infringing on his "territory" during Sunday's debate.

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, held an event in Miami alongside Al Gore, but instead of the usual campaign stump speech, the Democratic nominee focused heavily -- and in detail -- on the climate crisis. Grist's Rebecca Leber explained yesterday that voters "finally heard what Clinton sounds like when she digs in on climate."
"Climate change is real. It's urgent. And America can take the lead in the world in addressing it," Clinton said. She focused on the U.S.'s capacity to lead the world in a climate deal and as a clean energy superpower in a speech that mostly rehashed familiar policy territory.

Clinton ran down her existing proposals on infrastructure, rooftop solar, energy efficiency, and more, though she omitted the more controversial subjects, like what to do about pipeline permits, that have dogged her campaign.
The pipeline-permit omission notwithstanding, the remarks were deeply substantive. Clinton's reputation for a wonky attention to detail is well deserved and was on display in Miami.

Soon after, Clinton's campaign unveiled new details of her anti-poverty agenda, including an expansion of the child tax credit, which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates would help 14 million families and "lift about 1.5 million people (including about 400,000 children under age 5) above the poverty line."

To be sure, the policy details are a little complicated, but it's an attainable goal and, if implemented, the plan is likely to succeed.

And while that obviously matters, there's also the broader political context to consider.
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Image: Deb Fischer

Under pressure, some of Trump's GOP critics reverse course

10/12/16 09:28AM

After the audio of Donald Trump's 2005 comments were publicly released late last week, a Republican stampede of sorts developed. Scores of Republican officials condemned their party's presidential nominee, many pulled their support for Trump's candidacy, and some even called for a new GOP candidate to lead the party's ticket.

Among those who said Trump should step aside was Darryl Glenn, a far-right Republican Senate candidate in Colorado, facing long odds. "As a father, as a Christian, and as a Republican, I believe that we simply cannot tolerate a nominee who speaks this way about women," Glenn said in a statement on Saturday. He added that Trump should do the "honorable, selfless thing" and "voluntarily step aside." Glenn called it "the only way forward."

Yesterday, Glenn re-endorsed Trump, praising his "contrition" during Sunday's debate. "I think he reset this campaign," Glenn told Fox News.

As Politico noted, the Coloradan isn't the only Republican who's looking at Trump in a new light.
Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer on Tuesday reversed her call for Donald Trump to resign from the GOP ticket, telling a local radio station that it's "not a tough choice" to back him just three days after she urged him to quit.

"I plan to vote for Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence on November 8," she said on Nebraska's KLIN. "I put out a statement ... with regard to Mr. Trump's comments. I felt they were disgusting. I felt they were unacceptable and I never said I was not voting for our Republican ticket."
As recently as Saturday, Fischer didn't just denounce Trump, she was one of several Republican officeholders who said Trump ought to "step aside and allow Mike Pence to serve as our party's nominee."

By yesterday, however, the Nebraska senator had nevertheless changed her mind. Fischer considers Trump's comments about women "unacceptable," though she's nevertheless prepared to accept Trump's presidential candidacy.

"To me it's not a tough choice," Fischer added.
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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrives on stage for a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. on Oct. 10, 2016. (Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty)

Trump says he's 'the only one' who can protect the U.S.

10/12/16 08:47AM

About a month ago, when Hillary Clinton had pneumonia, it seemed likely that Donald Trump would raise the volume on his questions about his rival's health. That never really happened, though -- the Republican candidate got distracted, focused his energies elsewhere, and by the time Clinton was defeating Trump in the presidential debates, the issue of Clinton's health had largely disappeared.

Desperate to find something to shake up the campaign, Trump's campaign is giving it another try, unveiling a new ad yesterday that shows Clinton coughing and falling ill at a 9/11 event. The commercial specifically tells viewers, "Hillary Clinton doesn't have the fortitude, strength or stamina to lead in our world."

It's an odd line of attack. Literally two days before unveiling an ad going after Clinton's "fortitude," Trump told a presidential debate audience, "I will say this about Hillary, she doesn't quit. She doesn't give up. I respect that.... She's a fighter."

But what I found especially interesting about the Trump campaign's latest commercial was the on-screen text at the end of the spot. In all-capital letters, the ad wraps up with this message:
"Donald Trump will protect you.

"He is the only one who can."
This keeps happening. In his Republican convention speech, Trump boasted, "Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.... I am your voice."

A couple of months prior, the Republican declared, "Politicians have used you and stolen your votes. They have given you nothing. I will give you everything. I will give you what you've been looking for for 50 years. I'm the only one."

Two weeks ago, Trump added that voting for him would "make possible every dream you've ever dreamed."

Remember eight years ago when the right accused Barack Obama of having a messianic streak?
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Blake Farenthold

GOP congressman struggles with the limits of his Trump support

10/12/16 08:00AM

One of the driving questions of the 2016 presidential campaign has been directed at Republicans backing Donald Trump: How far would he have to go before you withdrew your support?

Racist rhetoric, as we discovered, wasn't enough for Trump's GOP supporters to give up on his candidacy. Misogyny wasn't either. Criticizing veterans and their families, mocking people with physical disabilities, and praising dictators also did little to undermine Republicans' allegiance to Trump. In January, the candidate himself marveled at the dynamic: "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK? It's, like, incredible."

Late last week, when an audio recording surfaced of Trump bragging about sexual assault, dozens of GOP officials abandoned the Republican presidential candidate, but even in this case, the vast majority of the party's members of Congress and governors stuck with Trump.

So, for these loyal partisans, is there any limit? Is there literally nothing the GOP nominee could say or do to cause them to walk away? On MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes," the host posed a striking hypothetical to Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas). Here's the relevant part of the exchange:
FARENTHOLD: I'm not here to defend Donald Trump. I don't like what he said, but ...

HAYES: If a tape came out with Donald Trump saying that -- if a tape came out with Donald Trump saying that, saying "I really like to rape women," you would continue to endorse him.

FARENTHOLD: Again, it would, I — that would be bad, and I would have to consider -- I'd consider it. But again, we're talking about what Donald Trump said 10 years ago as opposed to what Hillary Clinton has done in the past two or three years.
In other words, if the Texas congressman heard Donald Trump boasting about rape, Farenthold would "consider" withdrawing his support, but according to what he said on the air last night, it wouldn't be an automatic deal-breaker.
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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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