John Kasich seems to understand that by the time the presidential primaries and caucuses are over, he's going to trail his Republican rivals by every relevant metric: delegates, victories, and votes. Common sense suggests it's a recipe for failure.
But the Ohio governor still doesn't see it that way. Time magazine reported yesterday that Kasich and his top aides spent some time this week trying to "reassure supporters and potential delegates" that the campaign is still on the right track, primary and caucus results notwithstanding.
During an hour-long conference call after Kasich's final town hall event in Wisconsin ahead of the state's April 5 primary, the candidate addressed delegates and potential delegates to the GOP convention in Cleveland, as well as top donors and volunteers, to reassure them he has no intention of dropping out of the race. [...]
Kasich and his senior advisers maintain that the Republican race is heading for a contested convention -- with no candidate having the 1,237 delegates required to win the nomination on the first ballot.
And that may very well be true. Donald Trump is obviously leading the GOP pack, but whether or not he can cross the 1,237-delegate threshold remains an unresolved question -- though this may not be entirely relevant to Kasich's ambitions, given how much further back he'll finish.
But the governor added an interesting historical detail: "Of the 10 Republican contested conventions, only three times did the frontrunner become the Republican nominee."
This got me thinking: is Kasich correct? In contested Republican conventions, has the frontrunner usually lost?
In his big New York Timesinterview the other day, Donald Trump said countries with "nuclear capability" represent the "biggest problem the world has." That's a perfectly reasonable thing to say.
Except, moment later, the candidate said the United States has to "talk about" allowing Japan and South Korea to have a nuclear arsenal of their own. He also referred to his fear of "nuclear global warming," whatever that is.
Last night, CNN's Anderson Cooper tried to explore this issue in more detail with the Republican presidential frontrunner.
COOPER: Let's talk about nuclear issues because you talked about this in a really interesting article in The New York Times.
TRUMP: One of the very, very big issues. I think maybe the biggest issue of our time.
COOPER: That's what you said to The New York Times. You said you worried about the proliferation of nuclear weapons the most. You also said, though, that you might support Japan and South Korea developing nuclear weapons of their own. Isn't that completely contradictory?
TRUMP: No, not at all. Look, you have North Korea has nuclear weapons. And he doesn't have a carrier yet but he has got nuclear weapons. He soon will have. We don't want to pull the trigger. We're just -- you know, we have a president, frankly, that doesn't -- nobody is afraid of our president. Nobody respects our president. You take a look at what's going on throughout the world. It's not the country that it was.
Cooper, to his credit, tried to get the candidate to focus on the issue. "But if you're concerned about proliferation," the anchor said, "letting other countries get nuclear weapons, isn't that proliferation?" Trump responded by talking about the national debt and "the very, very bad omnibus budget that was just signed."
Cooper went on to note that U.S. policy has long opposed nuclear proliferation in Japan and South Korea. Trump said it may be "time to change" this posture.
"So some proliferation is OK?' the host asked. "No, no, not proliferation," Trump said. "I hate nuclear more than any."
Cooper, understandably confused by Trump's incoherence, tried to understand why Trump supports and opposes nuclear proliferation at the same time. The candidate responded by expanding the conversation to nuclear weapons in Saudi Arabia.
In January, not long after the terrorist attack in Paris, Fox News' Steven Emerson had a deeply unfortunate, and internationally ridiculed, exchange about England's Muslim population, for which he later apologized. But of particular interest was Emerson's argument that Britain has "no-go zones ... where non-Muslims just simply don't go in."
The problem, of course, is that this was plainly wrong. Fox News went so far as to issue an on-air correction, telling viewers there is "no credible information to support the assertion" that "no-go zones" exist in Europe.
But Republican presidential candidates don't need credible information to make false assertions. Bobby Jindal, for example, spent some time last year warning audiences about "no-go zones" in Western Europe, despite the fact that they don't exist.
This week, in an op-ed for the New York Daily News, Ted Cruz embraced the same talking point (via Hunter).
One of the causes of this horror has been European bureaucrats restraining law enforcement from fully engaging with the Muslim community in "no go" zones. As a result, for years, a radical, theocratic, violent ideology has spread in some mosques and Muslim neighborhoods throughout Europe. Terrorists have exploited these isolated enclaves to recruit followers, formulate plots and orchestrate attacks. [...]
There is no better example of these "no go" zones than one neighborhood in the city of this latest horrific attack -- the municipality of Molenbeek in the city of Brussels.
To be sure, Molenbeek's security significance matters a great deal, but to suggest that non-Muslims simply don't go to the city is ridiculous -- Muslim residents make up "around 25 to 30 percent" of the area's population.
Why in the world do American conservatives keep pointing to "zones" that don't exist? Because this is part of a domestic agenda.
The scandal surrounding the "D.C. Madam" may seem like old news, but if you missed last night's show, you may not realize that this story is suddenly quite relevant again. WTOP, a Washington-area news radio station, had this report yesterday:
The former attorney for the "D.C. Madam" has asked the United States Supreme Court to allow him to release records of Deborah Jeane Palfrey's escort service, including customer names, addresses and Social Security numbers, because they allegedly could affect the 2016 presidential election.
In an application to the high court, filed Monday, Montgomery Blair Sibley is asking to be released from a judge's 2007 restraining order which prohibited him from sharing Palfrey's telephone records, during the much-publicized run-up to her federal trial for racketeering, money laundering and mail fraud.
And, if the Supreme Court won't hear his argument, Sibley says he will release the identifying information of Palfrey's customers.
It's been a long while since this story was in the news, so before we get into why this may matter to the 2016 presidential race, it's probably worth recapping some of the forgotten details.
Deborah Jeane Palfrey ran a DC-area escort service for several years, before getting caught by the police. As part of her legal defense, Palfrey's lawyers said they would expose the service's client list -- not by releasing a list of names, but by releasing phone records.
One of those numbers, we now know, was traced back to Louisiana's right-wing Republican senator, David Vitter, who ran on a "family values" platform.
But what's easy to forget nearly a decade later is that the matter wasn't fully resolved: the full phone records were never released.
There was a point last summer when Donald Trump flirted with the possibility of running an independent presidential campaign, prompting widespread consternation in Republican circles. But by early September, Trump announced that he'd signed the RNC's "loyalty pledge," committing him to the party's nominating process -- and its nominee.
As we've discussed before, however, the New York Republican left himself some wiggle room. Trump said, repeatedly, that he would honor the agreement so long as Republicans treated him "fairly." He never specified exactly what "fairly" meant -- apparently, he knows it when he sees it -- but the candidate's rhetoric suggested he always saw a way out of his promise.
When pushed again by moderator Anderson Cooper about whether he'd respect the so-called "Loyalty Pledge" ... Trump was more direct:
"No, I don't anymore. No. We'll see who it is. And he was essentially saying the same thing."
In this case, "he" referred to Trump's principal rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, who also suggested he no longer feels bound by the party's pledge.
"I'm not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and attacks my family," Cruz said last night. Pressed to explain the implications of his position, the Texas Republican would only say, "I gave you my answer."
For good measure, even John Kasich hedged on whether he'll honor the RNC pledge, saying he would have to wait to "see what happens" in the Republican race before deciding whether to keep his commitment.
Keep in mind, at a Republican debate held earlier this month, these candidates were asked whether they'd support their party's presidential nominee, no matter who prevailed. Cruz said, "Yes, because I gave my word that I would." Kasich responded, "[If Trump] ends up as the nominee -- sometimes, he makes it a little bit hard -- but, you know, I will support whoever is the Republican nominee for president."
A lot has happened in the four weeks since, and as of last night, the RNC's "pledge" appears to be no more.
Rachel Maddow reports on how the lawyer for D.C. madam Deborah Palfrey is asking the Supreme Court for permission to release his client's phone records because the contents of those records will have a direct effect on the 2016 presidential race. watch
Rukmini Callimachi, foreign correspondent for the New York Times, talks with Rachel Maddow about her analysis of the operational structure of ISIS and the infiltration of ISIS terrorists in the West. watch
Rachel Maddow alerts viewers to MSNBC's Wednesday night special schedule, beginning with a John Kasich town hall hosted by Chuck Todd at 7pm ET, then a Donald Trump town hall hosted by Chris Matthews at 8pm ET, and then Rachel Maddow interviews Hillary Clinton at 9pm ET followed by Bernie Sanders at 10pm ET. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on the denials by the Trump campaign that campaign manager Corey Lewandowski yanked a reporter by her arm - or even touched her at all, and the new security video that shows otherwise. watch
* This could have been much worse: "A hijacker who took dozens of hostages aboard a commercial jet over what appeared to be a 'personal' matter involving a woman was arrested after an hours-long standoff Tuesday, authorities said."
* President Obama touted new proposals at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit: "The Obama administration on Tuesday announced a series of initiatives aimed at curbing America's opioid addiction epidemic, steps that would make it easier to obtain medication-assisted treatment, expand Medicaid coverage for mental health and substance-abuse care and increase use of a drug that saves people from overdoses."
* An unexpected move in the contraception fight: "Many observers left last week's contraceptive coverage oral argument at the Supreme Court convinced that the court was headed to a 4-4 tie, with Justice Anthony Kennedy siding with the religious objectors opposing the Obama administration's plan to cover their female employees' contraception. On Tuesday, less than a week after oral argument, the court surprised everyone with a two-page order asking the parties for more information on their positions."
* The end of a very high-profile dispute: "The Justice Department has asked to drop the court order that it wanted to use to compel Apple to help unlock an iPhone used by San Bernardino, California, attacker Syed Farook, saying it has gotten data off the device without the company's help."
* Good for him: "North Carolina's new law limiting LGBT protections is a 'national embarrassment,' and the state's lawyers won't defend it against a federal challenge from gay rights advocates, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Tuesday."
* Utah: "Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has approved a bill that makes Utah the first state to require doctors to give anesthesia to women having an abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy or later. The proposal is based on the disputed premise that a fetus can feel pain at that point."
When we last checked in on Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, the "family values" Republican was facing accusations from the former head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency about an alleged extra-marital affair. The officer held a press conference to say he'd been fired for failing to go along with a scheme to hide the governor's personal misdeeds.
Bentley held a strange press conference soon after to apologize – though it was unclear to whom he was apologizing and for what. The governor acknowledged his role in inappropriate communications with his top political aide, but he denied having a "physical relationship" with her.
An audio recording surfaced soon after in which Bentley is overheard describing what sounded like a "physical relationship" with his staffer.
A week later, the questions are only growing louder; the list of Republicans calling for Bob Bentley's resignation is growing longer; and the governor's future is looking bleaker.
Gov. Robert Bentley sidestepped questions about an alleged affair with senior political adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason during a visit Monday to a rural health center in Centreville -- his first public appearance since sexually explicit recordings of the governor talking to Mason were made public last week.
If he's come up with a defense or any new talking points, the governor kept them to himself. "We have made our statement last week and that's all we're going to say about that," he said.
But there is no scenario in which Bentley's odd, literally unbelievable statement from last week makes his scandal go away. On the contrary, today's headlines make clear this controversy goes well beyond an inappropriate workplace romance.
Earlier this month, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was so embarrassed by his role in the Republican Supreme Court blockade, he "raised a binder to cover his face before hurriedly retreating" from reporters on Capitol Hill with questions about his behavior. It wasn't a good sign.
Nearly four weeks later, Grassley is still under fire for his partisan antics, and in a way, he's still covering his face -- to the point that he doesn't want to tell his own constituents where he's holding public events. The Huffington Postreported yesterday:
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) says he will be going around speaking with constituents at more than a dozen events in his home state during the Senate's two-week spring recess.
But most of the public will have no idea how to find him, because his office is keeping the details of those events secret to avoid protesters.
It's amazing to think that just seven weeks ago, Grassley was sitting pretty, holding a powerful Senate gavel and looking like a lock to win re-election in November. Now, however, the long-time, far-right lawmaker is at the center of a Supreme Court fiasco; he's receiving the worst press of his lengthy congressional career; and he's facing the most serious Democratic challenge since joining the Senate 36 years ago.
Grassley is not just facing pressure from protesters demanding he act more responsibly in the Senate. The Des Moines Registerreported today -- on the front page, no less -- that Grassley went to Northwestern Iowa yesterday, home to some of the most conservative areas in the state, where he still faced "tough and repeated questions over his refusal to hold hearings on a nominee to the Supreme Court."
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.