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Meaning of campaign staff change hard to read

Meaning of campaign manager change tricky to read

06/20/16 09:00PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the Donald Trump campaign's firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and notes that campaign manager firings in the past have indicated anything from a campaign's demise to a rallying reorganization. watch

Monday's Mini-Report, 6.20.16

06/20/16 05:31PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Afghanistan: "A Taliban suicide bomber attacked a minibus carrying Nepalese and Indian security contractors to work at the Canadian Embassy early Monday, killing 14 people in one of the deadliest attacks on foreign workers in the Afghan capital, the police and government officials said."
 
* Venezuela's crisis: "In the last two weeks alone, more than 50 food riots, protests and mass looting have erupted around the country. Scores of businesses have been stripped bare or destroyed. At least five people have been killed. This is precisely the Venezuela its leaders vowed to prevent."
 
* The Justice Department today released an un-redacted transcript of the 911 call made by the gunman in the Orlando mass-shooting.
 
* A 5-3 ruling: "The Supreme Court on Monday made it easier for police to get evidence admitted in a prosecution even if that evidence was obtained after an unconstitutional stop."
 
* On a related note, the ruling included a striking dissent: "Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a searing -- and at times, wrenching -- dissent in a Supreme Court illegal-stop-and-search case in which she accused the conservative majority of giving 'officers an array of instruments to probe and examine you.'"
 
* Death penalty: "An Alabama appeals court on Friday upheld the validity of the state's death-sentencing law despite a January decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down a similar law in Florida."
 
* Over the course of just nine days, three different Oakland police chiefs were forced to resign in the wake of assorted controversies.
 
* Sorry, conservatives, but the ACA is still working: "Fewer Americans reported not having enough money in the past 12 months to pay for necessary healthcare and/or medicines for themselves or their families than at any point since Gallup and Healthways began tracking this metric in 2008."
Hillary Clinton greets Sen. Elizabeth Warren as they arrive for Sen. John Kerry's confirmation hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill Jan. 24, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Elizabeth Warren 'intrigued' by VP possibility

06/20/16 04:58PM

Two of Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) advisers told the Boston Globe over the weekend that the Democratic senator is "intrigued with the idea" of serving as Hillary Clinton's running mate.
 
Sen. Elizabeth Warren made a visit to Hillary Clinton's Brooklyn headquarters on Friday, a stop that is bound to stoke further vice presidential speculation.
 
Warren greeted staffers, took photos and delivered a pep talk to mark the start of the general election, according to several people present at the visit.
The Washington Post's report added that Warren, according one person in the room, told aides at Clinton's New York headquarters, "Don't screw this up."
 
A day later, on Saturday, Warren spoke at the New Hampshire Democratic State Convention where she went after Donald Trump again, labeling him a "proven failure" who is unfit to lead.
 
"Every day we learn more about him, and every day it becomes clearer that he is just a small, insecure money-grubber who doesn't care about anyone or anything that doesn't have the Trump name splashed all over it. Every day it becomes clearer that he is a thin-skinned, racist, sexist bully," Warren said, according to the Huffington Post's report. "Every day it becomes clearer that he will never be president of the United States."
A file picture dated Feb. 23, 2016 shows a security guard patrolling in front of an Apple Store before a small rally in support of the company's privacy policy in New York. (Photo by Justin Lane/EPA)

Corporate sponsors keep their distance from Republican convention

06/20/16 02:18PM

Initially, the Republican National Convention's corporate sponsors steered clear because they feared possible violence. Donald Trump personally raised the prospect of "riots" at the party's gathering, and as we discussed in March, no corporation wants to see photos of fist fights at a national convention with its logo featured prominently in the background.
 
As spring turned to summer, and the likelihood of unrest at the Republican convention dissipated, some assumed the corporate sponsors would return. As it turns out, that's not quite what's happening. Politico, for example, had this report on one of the planet's most successful businesses wanting nothing to do with the gathering in Cleveland.
Apple has told Republican leaders it will not provide funding or other support for the party's 2016 presidential convention, as it's done in the past, citing Donald Trump's controversial comments about women, immigrants and minorities. [...]
 
Apple's political stand against Trump, communicated privately to Republicans, is a sign of the widening schism between Silicon Valley and the GOP's bombastic presumptive nominee.
Note, some other tech companies have said they won't sponsor the Republican convention financially, but they are willing to contribute technological assistance. Apple, however, has decided not to play any role whatsoever at the party's gathering.
 
By all appearances, it's not a strictly partisan move: the tech giant isn't anti-Republican; it's anti-Trump.
 
And Apple is hardly alone. Bloomberg Politics reported that Wells Fargo, UPS, Motorola, JPMorgan Chase, Ford, and Walgreens each sponsored the Republican convention in 2012, but they've decided not to do the same in 2016. Microsoft and Coca-Cola have already made the same decision.
Ripped Donald Trump signs lay on the floor at a rally in Radford, Va., Feb. 29, 2016. (Photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for MSNBC)

Chatter of a convention coup gets Trump's attention

06/20/16 12:40PM

On paper, the race for the Republican presidential nomination has been over for quite a while. Donald Trump's remaining rivals quit in early May and he's locked up more than enough bound delegates to win on the first ballot. There is no meaningful doubt as to who the GOP nominee will be.
 
And yet, chatter of a convention coup isn't going away.
Dozens of Republican convention delegates are hatching a new plan to block Donald Trump at this summer's party meetings, in what has become the most organized effort so far to stop the businessman from becoming the GOP presidential nominee. [...]
 
Given the strife, a growing group of anti-Trump delegates is convinced that enough like-minded Republicans will band together in the next month to change party rules and allow delegates to vote for whomever they want at the convention, regardless of who won state caucuses or primaries.
There's no shortage of reasons for skepticism, not the least of which is the arithmetic: the Washington Post's report said "at least 30 delegates" are involved in the effort. There are 2,472 delegates headed to the Republican National Convention. "At least 30" is a start, but it's safe to say the odds are not in the renegades' favor.
 
But before anyone laughs this off as a meaningless distraction, note the degree to which the coup's ringleaders have gotten Trump's attention.

Monday's Campaign Round-Up, 6.20.16

06/20/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
 
* At this point four years ago, 54% of the campaign ad spending in battleground states came from President Obama's campaign, while 46% campaign from Mitt Romney's campaign. Now, Hillary Clinton is responsible for 100% of the ad spending in those same states, compared to Donald Trump's 0%.
 
* Trump told NBC News over the weekend, "It would be nice if the Republicans stuck together." He added, however, that GOP backing isn't necessary: "I can win one way or the other."
 
* Bernie Sanders wants to scrap superdelegates and open up Democratic nominating contests to Republican and independent voters. Over the weekend, the Congressional Black Caucus said it intends to fight against both of these proposed changes.
 
* Trump announced over the weekend that if he were a British citizen, he'd favor Britain leaving the European Union. Those rallying against the "Brexit" are no doubt delighted to have such an unpopular figure on the opposite side.
 
* Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is the latest Republican to get caught up in an awkward conversation about "supporting" Trump vs. "endorsing" him.
 
* On a related note, the latest Marquette poll in Wisconsin shows former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) leading Johnson, 51% to 42%.
 
* Democratic donors "in the financial services industry" are reportedly urging Clinton not to choose Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as the party's vice presidential candidate.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign rally in Lynwood, Los Angeles, Calif., June 6, 2016. (Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Clinton moves forward with a '50-state strategy'

06/20/16 11:20AM

In his lengthy address to supporters last week, Bernie Sanders didn't make specific demands of Democrats, but he condemned the party for having "turned its back on dozens of states in this country." The senator insisted, "The Democratic Party needs a 50-state strategy. We may not win in every state tomorrow but we will never win unless we recruit good candidates and develop organizations that can compete effectively in the future."
 
Given Sanders' comments about the South a few months ago, he may not be the ideal messenger for this message, but if the senator is counting on Hillary Clinton's campaign agreeing with his vision, he should be pleased with the latest Democratic developments. The Huffington Post reported over the weekend:
Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign will maintain staff in all 50 states during the general election with an eye toward overwhelming Republicans in the fall and rebuilding the Democratic Party's infrastructure thereafter. [...]
 
Many states in which Clinton will be employing staff and spending resources will almost assuredly vote against her anyway. She could end up wasting money that is needed to win swing states. But her staffers say the investment is well worth it.
Marlon Marshall, the Clinton team's director of state campaigns and political engagement, told the Huffington Post, "This is something that needs to happen every presidential cycle. It needs to be sustained. And I think if we continue to do that, we will help build the party long-term."
 
That's always been the challenge with implementing a 50-state strategy: a candidate, eager to succeed, wants to invest limited resources where they'll produce the largest short-term gains. If you're a Democratic presidential nominee, and your focus is on winning, do you divert money from Ohio in order to help build the party in Oklahoma? Isn't it more important to win the race you're in and work on future cycles in the future?
 
The problem with that line of thinking, of course, is that there will never be an ideal time to do the hard work in states that aren't currently competitive. In 2016, Clinton and her team believe they can do both: win the election with staff in literally every state, while laying a stronger foundation for future cycles.
In this Aug. 25, 2015 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, right, walks with his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after speaking at a news conference in Dubuque, Iowa. (Photo by Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Donald Trump ousts campaign manager Corey Lewandowski

06/20/16 10:44AM

Some divisions within a presidential campaign are almost inevitable, but the civil war within Donald Trump's operation reached an untenable level quite a while ago. One recent report described "TrumpWorld" as "a seething mosh pit." In a separate report, an operative close to the campaign described the operation as "a total cage fight."
 
As regular readers know, Team Trump is divided into two warring factions: a contingent that sides with Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski and another backing Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. Eventually, something had to give. This morning, something did: NBC News confirmed that Lewandowski is out.
Lewandowski has been with Trump since the beginning of his unexpected political rise to the top of the presidential election process. He has also been at odds with other factions within the campaign on the direction forward, especially as Trump has struggled to gain his footing in the general election.
 
In what appears to be a surprise move, Lewandowski was with Trump at campaign events and fundraisers as recently as this weekend.
There's been no shortage of controversy surrounding Lewandowski, and he even faced a criminal charge after a confrontation with a reporter a few months ago. Around the same time, other Trump staffers "expressed concerns" about Lewandowski's "quick temper and heavy-handed leadership." Some Trump aides reportedly even "planned a coup against him."
 
At the time, Trump said he would remain loyal to the campaign manager who remained loyal to him. But that was when the New York Republican was still riding high; now that Trump is losing, it's a very different story.
 
NBC News' Ali Vitali asked a source within the campaign if other Trump staffers had been notified of the decision to oust Lewandowski. The source said it's "bedlam in the Trump campaign. No one knows what is happening."
 
Those are not phrases generally associated with a successful political enterprise.
The Republican National Committee headquarters, Sept. 9, 2014. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

The list of officials quitting the Republican Party keeps growing

06/20/16 10:00AM

Two weeks ago, an Iowa state senator who's had a lengthy career in public service as a Republican announced he just couldn't take it anymore: citing Donald Trump as a contributing factor, the lawmaker quit the GOP and changed his voter registration to "no party."

A few days later, the Republican mayor of Hackensack, New Jersey, announced he too is giving up on the GOP, and he was joined by his deputy mayor. Both mentioned Trump in their statements and both switched their registration to "independent."

Over the weekend, the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia reported on another joining the club.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, who has been a Republican for 45 years and has been elected mayor four times as a Republican, has left the party.
 
Jones announced Friday that he has switched his party registration to "unaffiliated." He pointed to multiple factors, specifically the social conservative bent of the West Virginia House of Delegates and the rise of Donald Trump as the party's presidential nominee.
In addition to his opposition to Trump's candidacy, Jones noted the "obsession" among West Virginia Republicans to allow private-sector discrimination again LGBT Americans as one of the reasons he's walking away from the party.
 
Jones, the mayor of West Virginia's largest city, added, "I plan to complete my current term, and have no plans to run for any office ever again. I am not trying to pick a fight with anyone."
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pauses while delivering a campaign speech about national security in Manchester, N.H., June 13, 2016. (Photo by Bryan Snyder/Reuters)

He's lined up excuses, but Donald Trump knows he's losing

06/20/16 09:20AM

For much of 2015, Donald Trump's standing primary stump speech included quite a few references to public-opinion polls. The New York Republican saw all the surveys showing him dominating GOP polls for months, and he was eager to tout his advantage on a daily basis.
 
That bravado, like his polling edge, is long gone. Though national surveys showed Trump neck and neck with Hillary Clinton a month ago -- some polls even showed him inching ahead -- the Republican's recent antics have pushed his support to depths unseen in quite a while.
 
On Friday, Trump was reduced to tweeting about a dubious national poll -- which showed him losing. (As a rule, presidential candidates don't brag about survey results in which they're behind.)
 
The New York Times, which noted that Trump "rarely, if ever, acknowledges he might be losing at anything," reported that the candidate conceded late last week that he's not, at present, winning.
"I'm four down in one poll, three and a half in another that just came out, and I haven't started yet," Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, said in a phone interview on Thursday night, a thought he volunteered as he dismissed concerns from Senate Republicans that he may be a drag on their candidacies in the fall.
 
"And I have tremendous Republican support," Mr. Trump said.
And if the race for the presidency was limited to Republican voters, that might be a relevant observation.
 
As for the assertion that Trump hasn't "started yet," he's now been running for president for a full year, and he wrapped up the GOP nomination in early May. I'm reasonably certain he has "started," but if he hasn't, perhaps Trump might want to explain exactly what he's waiting for.
 
Over the weekend, Trump added that the latest polling shows he's "essentially even" with Clinton, which is true if you define "even" as "not particularly close." In fact, the Washington Post reported over the weekend, "Not only are Trump's poll numbers slipping, they are at a low that no one, Republican or Democrat, has seen in the past three election cycles.... The margin by which he trails Hillary Clinton now mirrors McCain's deficit to Barack Obama in 2008. McCain rebounded after the Republican convention — but it's important to remember that we're comparing Trump to the worst Republican performance in a general election since 1996."
 
But perhaps most interesting of all was something Trump told an audience in Denver.
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at a GOTV concert and campaign rally at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on June 4, 2016 in Los Angeles, Calif. (Photo by Jonathan Alcorn/AFP/Getty)

At the crossroads, Bernie Sanders has a decision to make

06/20/16 08:40AM

Bernie Sanders is, as of this morning, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. What that means in practical terms, and when this fact will no longer be true, is a little murky.
 
For all intents and purposes, the Sanders campaign appears to have run its course. There are no more primaries. There are no more caucuses. The senator's campaign manager has conceded that Team Sanders is making no effort to woo superdelegates. Many of the Vermonter's most notable supporters have urged him to wrap things up, have already switched their backing to Hillary Clinton, or both.
 
And yet, when Sanders delivered a lengthy video address on Thursday night, he described his vision for a progressive national platform, but he did not concede the race despite his second-place finish; he didn't endorse Clinton; and he gave no indication of when he might drop out. Making matters a little more complicated, Sanders' campaign manager told MSNBC on Friday that the senator is still an "active candidate for president."
 
Bloomberg Politics had a good report the other day on whether Sanders' strategy is his smartest play given the circumstances.
Representative Peter Welch, a fellow Vermonter who endorsed Sanders in February, fretted that continuing his campaign could be counterproductive to Sanders' goal of securing policy and procedural commitments.
 
"Some believe -- and it appears this is Bernie's view -- that the longer he stays in, the more effective he'll be in negotiating. My view is that the sooner we get unified the better," Welch said on Thursday before Sanders spoke. "Bernie doesn't give up any leverage by acknowledging explicitly that Hillary will be the nominee."
 
Jim Manley, a former communications strategist for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, said Sanders risks "marginalizing" himself, both in the campaign and upon returning to the Senate, if he doesn't accept that he has lost.
I can appreciate why some of this may seem counter-intuitive. Sanders likely believes he has more leverage by withholding his support and remaining an "active candidate for president." The moment he concedes and/or endorses Clinton, the argument goes, Democrats will effectively declare, "Now that we got what we want from Sanders, we can start ignoring him." The longer he holds out, the more he protects his relevance.
 
But if that is what the senator and his team are thinking, it's probably backwards.
Man holds a gun in the exhibit hall of the George R. Brown Convention Center, the site for the NRA's annual meeting in Houston, Texas

In one way, Trump is to the right of the NRA on guns

06/20/16 08:00AM

When the NRA's reaction to a brutal mass-shooting is slightly more progressive than the Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee, something very odd is happening. And yet, here we are.
Unlike Donald Trump, top leaders of the National Rifle Association said Sunday they don't believe patrons at a nightclub where 49 people were killed last weekend should have been armed for self-protection.
 
"I don't think you should have firearms where people are drinking," said NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre on CBS's Face the Nation.
On ABC's "This Week," Chris Cox, the head of the NRA's lobbying arm, adopted the same line. When Jonathan Karl asked Cox about whether nightclub attendees should be "armed to the teeth" in order to protect themselves, the NRA lobbyist replied, "No one thinks that people should go into a nightclub drinking and carrying firearms. That defies commonsense. It also defies the law. It's not what we're talking about here."
 
But the point is, at least one person -- the presidential candidate who enjoys the NRA's formal backing -- is talking about exactly that.
Rev. Pat Robertson, center, talks to attendees at a prayer breakfast at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. on Jan. 16, 2010. (Photo by Clem Britt/AP)

This Week in God, 6.18.16

06/18/16 07:00AM

First up from the God Machine this week is a look at the reactions to the mass-shooting in Orlando from some evangelical Christian leaders, who didn't exactly respond with compassion and grace. Take TV preacher Pat Robertson, for example.
[Tuesday] on "The 700 Club," televangelist Pat Robertson reacted to the massacre at an Orlando gay club by making the absurd claim that liberal LGBT rights advocates have aligned themselves with radical Islamists and are now reaping what they have sowed.
 
Robertson said that liberals are facing a "dilemma" because they love both LGBT equality and Islamic extremism, and that it is better for conservatives like himself not to get involved but to instead just watch the two groups kill each other.
"The left is having a dilemma of major proportions and I think for those of us who disagree with some of their policies, the best thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and let them kill themselves," he told his audience.
 
As the Right Wing Watch report added, Robertson's show later clarified that the televangelist was "referring to politics -- killing themselves politically." I'm not entirely sure what that means.
 
He was not, however, alone. As Rachel noted on Tuesday's show, Pastor Roger Jimenez from Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento told his congregation that Christians "shouldn't be mourning the death of 50 sodomites." From the pulpit, Jimenez called the massacre "great," adding, "The tragedy is that more of them didn't die. The tragedy is -- I'm kind of upset that he didn't finish the job!"
 
The same day, preacher Steven Anderson in Tempe also celebrated the mass-murders, saying that he thinks it's "good news" that "there are 50 less pedophiles in this world."
 
For the overwhelming majority of Americans, the massacre was a gut-wrenching tragedy, but for some Christian extremists, this attack was a blessing to be cheered. That shouldn't be considered the norm among Christian preachers, but this doesn't make their radicalism any less offensive.
 
Also from the God Machine this week:

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