Senator Michael Bennet, chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, talks with Rachel Maddow about how Democrats are trying to improve their nationwide voter outreach and the importance of field operations to building a campaign. watch
Lynn Bartels, reporter for The Denver Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about how Republicans are trying to quietly improve their get-out-the-vote strategy in Denver to avoid election day surprises like they had in 2010. watch
Lynn Bartels, reporter for The Denver Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about the storied history of a campaign office on Bannock Street in Denver and how Michael Bennet defied expectations to win a Senate seat in 2010 with a strong turnout. watch
* Another success story: "Amber Vinson, one of two nurses infected while treating Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas, leaves Emory University Hospital in Atlanta Tuesday fully cured of her infection."
* Related news: "The United States shouldn't do anything to discourage health care workers from traveling to Ebola-stricken countries, President Barack Obama said Tuesday in remarks that contrasted sharply with the actions of governors who have sought to quarantine doctors and nurses returning from West Africa."
* New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) "practically dared a nurse to sue him for quarantining her even after she tested negative for Ebola. 'Whatever. Get in line,' the brash Republican said Tuesday during a campaign stop in Rhode Island."
* Iran: "For more than a year, President Hassan Rouhani has been dangling the prospect of a bright economic future before the middle classes that elected him, promising to complete a deal with the West to limit Iran's nuclear program and end the sanctions hobbling the Iranian economy. While the deadline of Nov. 24 is fast approaching, it is far from clear whether the two camps will agree on a pact."
* North Korea: "The United Nations' point man on North Korea's human rights violations called Tuesday for Pyongyang to be referred to the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity, saying it is time to take actions against the regime 'to a new level.'"
* Hawaii: "The leading edge of the lava flow from the Kilauea volcano is just 100 yards from the nearest home in Pahoa, Hawaii, where residents are preparing to evacuate. Between Sunday and Monday, the lava flow advanced over 200 yards, moving at an average rate of 10 to 15 yards per hour."
Social conservatives in the United States who've been unhappy with Pope Francis' moderation today have one more reason to be upset. Daniel Berger reported this afternoon:
Pope Francis broke with Catholic tradition Monday by declaring that the theories of evolution and the Big Bang are real, and remarking that God is not "a magician with a magic wand."
"When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so," the pope said at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, during a plenary meeting dedicated to evolving concepts of nature.
The pope's remarks came earlier today in a speech to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
"The Big Bang, that today is considered to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the creative intervention of God; on the contrary, it requires it," the Roman Catholic pontiff said. "Evolution in nature is not in contrast with the notion of [divine] creation because evolution requires the creation of the beings that evolve."
Francis described a vision in which living beings evolve naturally, "in accordance with the internal laws" ascribed by God.
It is important to note, as the report from the Religion News Service emphasized, that this is not exactly a theological breakthrough: "Unlike much of evangelical Protestantism in the U.S., Catholic teaching traditionally has not been at odds with evolution. In 1950, Pope Pius XII proclaimed there was no opposition between evolution and Catholic doctrine. In 1996, St. John Paul II endorsed Pius' statement."
When it comes to Christian hostility towards modern biology, most of the opposition comes by way of Evangelical Protestants, not Roman Catholics.
Still, Francis' remarks are welcome for supporters of science in light of his immediate predecessor.
There's no shortage of interesting campaigns this year, but there's no race in the nation quite like Maine's gubernatorial race.
If you haven't been following it, Tea Partying Gov. Paul LePage (R), who won with less than 38% of the vote in a three-way race in 2010, is effectively tied in most recent polls with Rep. Mike Machaud (D). LePage would probably get crushed in a head-to-head contest, but the mainstream vote is being split between Machaud and Independent Eliot Cutler, who also ran four years ago.
On Tuesday, the Republican Governor's Association released its latest ad, which attacks Michaud and not-so-discreetly props up Cutler.
The RGA spot explains that a vote Michaud cast when he was in the Legislature would have imposed a new tax on Social Security. "It was such a bad idea that then-Gov. Angus King vetoed it," the ad voiceover said. "No wonder independent King now endorses Eliot Cutler."
Yep, the Republican Governors Association has taken the extraordinary step of creating an ad touting a popular figure endorsing an independent candidate. The independent candidate is running against a Republican incumbent, but the RGA doesn't care -- if it can boost support for Cutler, those are votes coming from Maine's mainstream, not the Republican base.
In other words, the Republican Governors Association is sending a not-so-subtle message to Cutler's supporters: it's time to use you as a pawn in the Republican machine.
Once in a while, what Fox viewers learn from on-screen text is even more entertaining than on-screen anchors and guests.
Last month, for example, Fox News viewers were told that the United States "has conducted at least 160 airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq," and at literally the exact same moment, viewers were also told there's been "no military action yet against ISIS."
Today, Media Matters noted Fox Business' Stuart Varney, who appeared above on-screen text that asked whether cheap gas is hurting the economy. Wonkette's reaction seemed to strike the appropriate tone.
Here is Stuart Varney on Fox Business today, yapping his elegant lippy about something, do not care, did not watch. But what is that chyron beneath him (which is, unaccountably, all spelled correctly and without discernible factual errors)? It is "just asking" if cheap gas is bad for the Murican Economy, which Obama broke, with his Time Machine and probably jazz cigarettes.
If gas prices get any lower -- while Barack Obama is still president, anyway -- Fox News will probably wonder why Obama broke the climate.
For the record, it's probably worth answering Fox Business' question: no, there is no evidence to suggest lower gas prices will hurt the economy. Lower gas prices may hurt the environment -- cheaper fuel may lead to more consumption and higher emissions -- but not the economy.
When recent polling showed Kentucky's U.S. Senate race tied, and the race became competitive enough for national Democrats to re-invest after walking away, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and his team said they were wholly unconcerned. In fact, last week, McConnell aides started passing around an internal poll showing the longtime incumbent ahead by eight points over Alison Lundergan Grimes (D).
But against the backdrop of public confidence, McConnell is so concerned, he wrote a $1.8 million check "out of his own bank account." The Republican can afford it -- McConnell's minimum net worth is nearly $12 million -- but it was the kind of move a candidate makes at the end of a race when he's worried about the outcome.
It's not yet clear exactly what McConnell intends to do with the $1.8 million, but it probably won't be devoted to health care.
Two weeks ago, the Kentucky senator said he hopes to destroy the current federal health care system, including the state-based system called Kynect, which is working quite well. McConnell said it's "fine to have a website" for a Kentucky-based marketplace, but everything else would be scrapped.
[I]f McConnell was fine keeping the website, would he also be willing to let people keep the federal assistance that helps them purchase coverage offered on that website?
The Huffington Post asked the McConnell campaign that very question the day after the debate. We asked the campaign the same question twice more that day. Then, we posed the question to them seven more times over the subsequent nine days. We also called the campaign twice. The campaign never responded.
That is, until yesterday, when a McConnell aide finally shared the senator's full position.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers:
* In Georgia's U.S. Senate race, PPP now shows Michelle Nunn (D) and David Perdue (R) tied at 47% each. This is actually a slight improvement for Nunn, who trailed by two points in the most recent PPP survey in Georgia.
* In Maine's gubernatorial race, PPP finds another tied race, with Gov. Paul LePage (R) and Mike Michaud (D) each getting 40%. Independent Eliot Cutler remains far back at 17%.
* In North Carolina's U.S. Senate race, the latest Monmouth poll shows Sen. Kay Hagan (D) hanging on against Thom Tillis (R), 48% to 46%.
* Alaska is often overlooked as a key Senate battleground, in part because it's so difficult to poll. That said, the New York Timesreports this morning, "The state fell off the radar over the last few weeks because just about every unsponsored survey was showing Dan Sullivan, the Republican, in the lead. But over the last few days, two Alaska-based pollsters have shown [incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich] with a substantial lead."
* Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) continues to face an uphill climb in her re-election bid in Louisiana. The latest Suffolk poll shows the senator with a narrow lead in the wide-open Election Day contest, but in a head-to-head runoff against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R), the Republican congressman has a seven point advantage over Landrieu.
* Things no longer look good for Democrats in South Dakota, where the party's Senate hopeful, Rick Weiland, is accusing Democratic leaders of trying to sabotage his campaign. A week from Election Day, that's probably a bad sign.