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Committee chairman Senator John McCain (R-AZ) listens during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, March 8, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty)

John McCain bows out of Republican convention

04/20/16 09:26AM

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told CNN yesterday that Republicans thinking about skipping the party's national convention in July should think again. "I think that we should go," Ryan said. "This is our convention making our nominee, so I think everybody should participate."
 
The Speaker added, "It could be a great historical exercise. I mean, it could be something you'll remember the rest of your life." Note, memorable things are not always positive.
 
Around the same time, however, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told The Hill that vulnerable GOP incumbents might want to skip this year's gathering, looking instead for "more unifying events" where there's less likelihood of a "brouhaha."
 
John McCain has apparently decided to listen to Wicker and ignore Ryan. Politico reported late yesterday:
The 2008 Republican presidential nominee will not attend the party's national convention in July. Arizona Sen. John McCain told reporters Tuesday that he may forgo attending what's expected to be a contested convention this summer in order to campaign for his Senate seat.
 
"I have to campaign for reelection, and I have always done that when I'm up," McCain said.
Point of fact: McCain's claim isn't true. The last time the Arizona Republican was up for re-election during a presidential election year, he not only attended the party's national convention, he delivered a high-profile speech celebrating George W. Bush. For the senator to say he's "always" skipped the convention when he's up is wrong.
 
But even putting that aside, there are a couple of angles to this. The first is the prospect of a toxic Republican convention, which leading party officials want no part of, and which they will take care to avoid. We don't yet know how the Republican presidential nominating process will play out, but there's a real chance of a contested convention -- at which things may get ugly.
 
One Republican senator has already said he's prepared to skip the GOP gathering, fearing for his personal safety, and some additional Republican members of Congress have said they'll stay home, not wanting to be associated with a convention that elevates Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.
 
It's possible some of these folks may change their minds, but at least for now, it's emblematic of a more systemic problem within the party: Republican politics is so fractured in 2016 that many party officials, including the party's 2008 presidential nominee, have concluded it's in their interests to stay far away.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. speaks to Communication Workers of America (CWA) picketers in midtown Manhattan, N.Y., April 18, 2016. (Photo by Mary Altaffer/AP)

Team Sanders still has a plan to win the Democratic nomination

04/20/16 08:42AM

As important as the results were from New York's presidential primaries, nearly as striking was an interview that aired live on MSNBC last night.
[Bernie Sanders'] campaign manager Jeff Weaver pledged late Tuesday that the campaign would go all the way to the Democratic convention in July, instead of rallying behind [Hillary Clinton].
 
Weaver told MSNBC's Steve Kornacki that the race will come down to super delegates, whom the Sanders' camp will work to flip even after voting has finished on June 7. Weaver said he believes they will come around if they can be convinced Sanders is the stronger general election candidate.
It's worth noting that some of the top people in the Sanders campaign may not be unanimous on this front. Tad Devine, Sanders' senior adviser, told reporters last night that after next week's five primaries, the campaign will "assess where we are." That's generally not a phrase campaign professionals use when getting ready to fight on, no matter what.
 
But around the same time. Weaver made a very different kind of argument. Kornacki walked through the delegate math with Sanders' campaign manager, trying to get a sense of how the senator intended to close the gap among pledged delegates. Weaver avoided specifics, probably because proportional delegate distribution makes it extremely difficult for Sanders to catch up to Clinton.
 
But ultimately, Weaver doesn't believe the senator has to catch up to Clinton at all -- because Sanders, his campaign manager argued, could still win the nomination even if voters side with Clinton.
 
The seven-minute clip is worth watching in its entirety, but I want to highlight the final exchange in particular:
A view of the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry.

Trump, Clinton in a New York state of mind

04/20/16 08:00AM

Two weeks ago, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders posted impressive wins in Wisconsin's presidential primaries, and "momentum" was all the rage. The national frontrunners -- Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump -- were still comfortably ahead in their respective races, but the challengers hoped Wisconsin would be a turning point that set the cycle in a whole new direction.
 
Voters in New York, however, had their own ideas. Let's start with the Democratic primary, which was the more competitive contest.
Hillary Clinton took a major step toward securing the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday night with a critical win in New York, leaving underdog Bernie Sanders to complain about the refs.
 
The Clinton victory – by a decisive double digit margin according to early returns – interrupts Sanders' eight-contest winning streak and blocked a key opportunity for Sanders to eat into Clinton's large pledged delegate lead.
The latest tallies show Clinton beating Sanders by roughly 16 points, slightly ahead of what pre-primary polls projected. The results also halt the senator's winning streak: Clinton's double-digit victory was her first win in any contest in nearly a month, with her most recent victory coming in Arizona on March 22.
 
And for Sanders, the timing couldn't be much worse. With the number of contests narrowing, the Vermonter faced long odds before last night's results, but the window of opportunity is nearly shut now, at least if Sanders intends to catch up to Clinton in pledged delegates.
 
Using recent history as a guide, Sanders' best chances of success come in caucus states with less racial diversity. There is such a contest remaining -- North Dakota's caucuses are on June 7 -- but much of the remaining calendar appears to favor Clinton. To secure the nomination, Sanders will either have to win practically every remaining contest by double digits, or he'll have to try to override the will of the voters. More on that later this morning.
 
Complicating matters, Sanders and his aides built up expectations in New York, repeatedly arguing that the senator was poised for a historic victory. Sanders spent two full weeks on the trail in the Empire State, where he outspent Clinton by a two-to-one margin, but in the end, he couldn't narrow the gap.
 
Tad Devine, Sanders' senior adviser, told reporters last night that after next week's five primaries, the campaign will "assess where we are." That's often a campaign euphemism for "acknowledging that we've come up short."
Trump changes tone on big New York win

Trump changes tone on big New York win

04/19/16 11:44PM

Robert Costa, national political reporter for The Washington Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about already-perceptible changes in the Trump campaign and Donald Trump's personal tone since the addition of new, more experienced advisers. watch

Trump's NY win bodes well for California

Trump's NY win bodes well for a California clinch

04/19/16 11:38PM

Steve Schmidt, Republican strategist, explains the political conditions in California and why Donald Trump's big win in New York, with its many strong Democratic districts, could be a sign of likely success winning similar districts in California for a big delegate win. watch

Cruz state party victories may be for naught

Cruz state party victories may be for naught

04/19/16 11:36PM

Rachel Maddow and Steve Kornacki explain that for all of the dramatic headlines about Ted Cruz taking delegates away from Donald Trump at state conventions, for the most part the loyalties of those delegates only come into play for the second ballot at the national convention, which may not happen if Trump wins outright. watch

Risk of Sanders attacks on Clinton lingering

Risk of Sanders attacks on Clinton lingering

04/19/16 10:09PM

An MSNBC panel discusses whether Bernie Sanders attacks on Hillary Clinton are likely to linger and be a burden to Clinton in the general election, and what Sanders' role will be in the race and the Democratic Party if he does not win the nomination. watch

Was Donald Trump ever stoppable?

Was Donald Trump ever stoppable?

04/19/16 08:21PM

Nicole Wallace, Republican strategist, makes the case that the #StopTrump effort started too late to be effective, while Rachel Maddow argues that Donald Trump has been impervious to attacks all along because Republican voters simply like him. watch

Tuesday's Mini-Report, 4.19.16

04/19/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Afghanistan: "More than 28 people were killed and almost 200 injured after militants set off a suicide bomb and stormed a government building in the Afghan capital Tuesday, officials said."
 
* Ecuador: "Earthquake-stricken Ecuador faced the grim reality of recovering more bodies than survivors as rescue efforts moved into a third day on Tuesday and the death toll climbed to nearly 500."
 
* When this first happened, the Taliban falsely claimed credit: "A solid plastic case designed to hold a set of night-vision goggles was ultimately responsible for causing the crash of an Air Force transport plane that killed 14 people in October, the Air Force announced in a statement last week."
 
* Cooler heads prevail in Tennessee: "The House sponsor of a bill that would require students in public school grades K-12 and higher education institutions to use the restroom that corresponds with their sex at birth is killing the controversial legislation."
 
* Brazil: "In her first public remarks since losing a critical impeachment vote, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Monday she would not go down without a fight and insisted there was no legal basis for her removal."
 
* Unexpected: "Sen. Lindsey Graham has placed a hold on legislation that would open the door for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks to sue Saudi Arabia. Graham (R-S.C.), who is a co-sponsor of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, put the hold on his own bill over concerns that new changes could expose the U.S. to legal attacks."
 
* Another 4-4 Supreme Court split: "Ruling in a case over a tax dispute involving a man who moved from California to Nevada, the justices said they could not muster a majority to resolve whether to overrule a 1979 Supreme Court precedent that permits state courts in one state to assert jurisdiction over state agencies in another. As a result, that precedent, Nevada v. Hall, will remain on the books."

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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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