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Friday's Campaign Round-Up, 10.23.15

10/23/15 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* A month ago, Quinnipiac showed Bernie Sanders leading Hillary Clinton in Iowa by one point, 41% to 40%. Today, Quinnipiac has Clinton leading Sanders by 11 points, 51% to 40%.
* Speaking of Iowa, the new Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register poll shows Ben Carson with a nine-point lead over Donald Trump among Hawkeye State Republicans, 28% to 19%. It's the second poll in as many days that shows Carson leading the field in Iowa.
* Team Jeb appears to have some financial concerns: "Jeb Bush ... is implementing an across-the-board pay cut for his struggling campaign, removing some senior staff from the payroll, and canceling some fundraisers."
* A super PAC supporting Trump is shutting down "after questions arose about whether the strategist who is running it had direct ties to the campaign."
* Speaking of Trump, the GOP frontrunner retweeted something rude about Iowa on his Twitter feed yesterday. The New York developer quickly blamed an intern.
* Despite the rhetoric about the Republicans' Benghazi Committee being non-political, Marco Rubio used yesterday's hearing to try to recruit supporters for his presidential campaign.
* The latest statewide poll in Louisiana's gubernatorial race shows John Bel Edwards (D) ahead with 41%, while three Republicans split the GOP vote.
House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) (L) and ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) argue while Hillary Clinton testifies October 22, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Let the Benghazi Boycott begin?

10/23/15 11:20AM

When Republicans created the Benghazi Committee, and shaped it to be as brazenly partisan and political as possible, there was considerable talk in Democratic circles about simply refusing to participate in the charade. House Dems eventually decided it would be worthwhile to have some role in the process, so the boycott chatter was waved off.
More recently, when Republicans began to admit that the entire exercise is a taxpayer-funded election scheme, the discussion began anew, but again, Democrats decided to stick around for a while longer.
But after yesterday's 11-hour spectacle, do Dems on the committee intend to remain on the panel indefinitely? Rachel asked Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) about this last night. The California Democrat, who also happens to be the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, conceded he was glad to have been on the dais for Hillary Clinton's testimony, but he added that the future is murky.
MADDOW: Now that this has happened, Chairman Gowdy was asked by reporters as he was leaving the committee room if he could identify a single new piece of information that he learned from today`s hearing. He could not name one. Now that that has happened and this is behind you and you saw how it went, what about that question of whether or not Democrats should continue to participate? Is this still an open question for you guys?
SCHIFF: Well, I think it is an open question. And part of the reason why it`s still open is the Republicans haven`t given us any idea what happens tomorrow. In other words, everything`s been building up to today.  They don`t -- they haven`t told us. My guess is they don`t even know themselves where they want to go from here.
I'd guess the same thing. In fact, it's why I find it hard to imagine how anyone, anywhere, will be able to justify the committee's continued existence with a straight face.

House Republican backs investigation into Tea Party PACs

10/23/15 10:44AM

In recent years, prominent Republican figures like Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich have used their name, mailing lists, and credibility with Republican donors to create lucrative and ethically dubious operations. In many instances, they've sent out highly "questionable," spam-like messages that appear to be scams.
But these kinds of efforts aren't limited to former candidates. The New York Times reports today on equally alarming phenomenon involving far-right outfits.
The petitions that started surfacing online over a year ago were as incendiary as they were urgent, begging recipients to sign up to “Boot Boehner,” “Dump McConnell,” “Drop a Truth-Bomb on Kevin McCarthy” and “Fire Paul Ryan.”
The calls to oust Republican leaders in Congress did not come from Democrats. They came from conservative websites and bloggers who have helped stoke a grass-roots rebellion to make Congress more conservative, a fevered continuation of the six-year Tea Party movement.
But these politically charged appeals to conservatives around the country were often accompanied by a solicitation for money, and the ultimate beneficiaries, records suggest, are the consultants who created the campaigns rather than the causes they are promoting.
The article highlighted a variety of entities -- the Tea Party Leadership Fund, the Madison Project, the Tea Party Patriots, et al -- that have "turned the attack on the Republican leadership into a fund-raising tool."

And while it's hardly unusual for political action committees and similar groups looking for donors to advance a cause, the Times reported that "many of these petition drives have a history of spending most of the money they raise on consulting firms, as opposed to using it to support political candidates, a stark contrast to how most PACs function."

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, went so far as to say, “There needs to be an investigation into these groups. Where does the money go?”
Democratic presidential candidate, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at the Surf Ballroom, Aug. 14, 2015, in Clear Lake, Iowa. (Photo Charlie Riedel/AP)

Chafee withdraws, Democratic field shrinks

10/23/15 10:03AM

There was a moment in last week's debate for Democratic presidential candidates in which Lincoln Chafee was asked about his 1999 vote on Wall Street reforms, in which he voted for the very policies he now opposes. "The Glass-Steagall was my very first vote," he replied. "I’d just arrived, my dad had died in office, I was appointed to the office, it was my very first vote."
Anderson Cooper wasn't altogether impressed: "Are you saying you didn’t know what you were voting for? ... What does that say about you that you’re casting a vote for something you weren’t really sure about?"
Chafee replied, "I think you’re being a little rough."
It was a rather brutal exchange, which would have had a greater impact were it not for the fact that Chafee wasn't a competitive candidate. Indeed, as of this morning, he's no longer a candidate at all.
Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee pulled out of the 2016 presidential race after failing to gain any traction in the Democratic primary field.
Chafee announced his plans at a Democratic women’s event in Washington Friday morning. “As you know I have been campaigning on a platform of Prosperity Through Peace. But after much thought I have decided to end my campaign for president today,” he said.
At last week's debate, there were five candidates on the stage. As of this morning, only three of them are still in the race, following former Sen. Jim Webb's withdrawal earlier this week.
President Barack Obama speaks before vetoing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (Photo by Susan Walsh/AP)

A rare sight: President Obama uses his veto pen

10/23/15 09:22AM

Congress' ability to legislate effectively has meant far fewer bill-signing ceremonies for President Obama, but it's also led to very few presidential vetoes -- Obama can't reject bills if lawmakers don't send bills to his desk for consideration.
In fact, as of today, Obama has used his veto pen just five times in his entire presidency (and the first two hardly count since they were technical in nature). When was the last time a president vetoed so few measures? Warren Harding served just two years in the White House in the early 1920s -- and he vetoed six bills.
When was the last time a two-term president vetoed so few bills? We have to go all the way back to James Monroe, who left office in 1825 -- nearly two centuries ago -- having only used his veto pen once.
With this in mind, when Obama dusts off the veto box in his desk, it's worth taking a closer look.
President Barack Obama has vetoed a sweeping $612 billion defense policy bill in a rebuke to congressional Republicans.
Obama says the bill does a number of good things, but falls woefully short in other areas. He says it “resorts to gimmicks.”
Congressional Republicans, nearly all of whom have voted against previous versions of the military spending package -- called the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA -- quickly reached for the fainting couch, expressing faux-outrage that the rascally, war-time president would have the audacity to reject their bill for the troops.
The problem, of course, is that reality tells us that Obama is entirely correct.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) arrives for a House Republican caucus meeting in the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Paul Ryan hedges on conditions, agrees to run for Speaker

10/23/15 08:40AM

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said, firmly and repeatedly, that he did not want to be Speaker of the House. Offered multiple opportunity, the Wisconsin congressman demurred -- he simply did not want the job.
That is, until yesterday, when the Republican succumbed to intra-party pressure and officially changed his mind.
Rep. Paul Ryan announced Thursday that he will seek to replace Rep. John Boehner as speaker of the House.
The 2012 Republican nominee for vice president reversed his previous position that he wasn’t interested in the job after intense public pressure from the Republican caucus, which deemed him the lone consensus candidate for the role. After repeatedly saying he didn’t want the the job, which is third in line to the presidency, the Wisconsin lawmaker appeared to hedge this week, presenting a series of conditions under which he would run with an emphasis on party unity.
By all appearances, Ryan is a very safe bet to succeed John Boehner, locking up support on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon from each of the House GOP's major factions. Barring any unexpected developments, the Wisconsinite will overcome token opposition and officially take the gavel next week.
It's the "series of conditions," however, that are worth pausing to appreciate, because what Paul Ryan said earlier this week isn't quite the same as what he's saying now.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gets up from the table during a break in her testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, on Capitol Hill in Washington Oct. 22, 2015. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The left and right can agree: Benghazi Comm. Republicans blew it

10/23/15 08:00AM

So much of American politics is a Rorschach test. Different people can look at the same event -- a speech, a debate, even a policy outcome -- and come away with entirely different perspectives, shaped almost entirely by ideological leanings. Politics, like art, is often in the eye of the beholder.
And with this in mind, as yesterday's 11-hour Benghazi Committee hearing with Hillary Clinton unfolded, it was hard not to wonder: were conservatives pleased with this ridiculous spectacle? Center-left observers were practically unanimous in their condemnations of the cringe-worthy witch hunt, but was the right impressed? Were there Republicans watching this nonsense unfold, delighted by their side's "victory" over the Democratic witness they love to hate?
Actually, no. In this case, there was no Rorschach test. Nearly everyone who saw this ignominious display -- left, right, and center -- agreed that congressional Republicans had an opportunity to advance their cause, but they blew it. Bloomberg Politics reported:
To hear Republicans tell it, a series of unfortunate events culminated in a rough day Thursday for the House Benghazi committee, leaving conservatives to wonder if they've lost their most potent political weapon against Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton. [...]
Among House Republicans, there were no high-fives: A half-dozen lawmakers surveyed offered a muted response when asked about the hearing on Thursday afternoon. Many conservative commentators were unimpressed, if not angry with the proceedings.
At one point, during Rep. Mike Pompeo's (R-Kan.) attempt to badger Clinton, John Podhoretz, a prominent conservative writer and former Republican speechwriter, said on Twitter, "Why doesn't Pompeo just go over and swear her in for president now -- if he goes on like this he'll practically get her elected."
It was that kind of day for Republicans.

Carson tops Trump in Iowa again and other headlines

10/23/15 07:58AM

Carson tops Trump in a second Iowa poll. (Des Moines Register)

Ben Carson begins first t.v. ads in key states. (NBC News)

Clinton regains lead in Iowa poll. (Bloomberg Politics)

Lincoln Chafee to address the future of his campaign today. (New York Times)

Documents: Arizona tried to illegally import execution drug. (AP)

NJ lawmakers override a Chris Christie veto for the first time--on a gun bill. (

Probe faults EPA for mine spill. (AP)

read more

Benghazi committee partisanship unprecedented

Partisanship of Benghazi committee unprecedented, mockery

10/22/15 09:54PM

Rachel Maddow criticizes the House Select Committee on Benghazi as a "partisan carnival" and a disgrace to the legacy of rigorous and real investigations into significant security incidents at U.S. facilities overseas and the serious people who have conducted those investigations going back to the bombing of Marine barracks in Beirut,... watch

US soldier dies in ISIS prison rescue in Iraq

US soldier dies in rescue raid on ISIS prison in Iraq

10/22/15 09:42PM

Rachel Maddow reports on a U.S. Special Operations raid on an ISIS prison in Iraq that cost the life of one U.S. soldier but successfully freed 75 prisoners and resulted in the capture of several ISIS fighters. Courtney Kube, NBC News national security producer, joins with the latest known details. watch


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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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